HIGH rates are among the factors being blamed for the state of Bradford’s West End which has seen a number of high-profile closures over the past few months.

A series of For Sale and To Let signs adorn a lot of the buildings along the lower reaches of Morley Street and Great Horton Road.

Many of the former nightclubs, restaurants and bars are boarded up and padlocked.

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Aaron Mellor, who ran the Bierkeller, Brewhaus and Tiki-O nightspots as part of his Tokyo Industries chain, said he has fully closed the businesses in the former Morley Street Baths complex.


He said: “Trading in Bradford is impossible.

“Rating levels on these sites make any form or trading impossible - the rates have been in appeal now for two years with the council being warned unless this was accelerated closures would happen. We still have no date which the rating appeal will be heard.

“The city is clinging onto hopes that a miracle investment of incredible proportion in the Odeon will save the city - it won’t.

“We invested an incredible sum of money into this site with promises of council support that was then cut by 40% once we had made our investment.

“We have been running in a cashflow crisis since the council’s reneged promises.”

Bradford Council acknowledged that they are looking at the regeneration of the Odeon building to help revive the West End area but are meeting with owners and lease holders to come up with new initiatives.

Walking up the two streets, it is difficult to imagine they were once the places to go on a night out in Bradford.

On the left of the Alhambra, the former All Bar One and Walkabout buildings are boarded up with To Let signs; the doors of Brewhaus, Bierkeller and Tiki-O are padlocked with notices saying they are for sale or lease; Beauty Box was shuttered; Cafe Lambada is locked up with Business For Sale signs.

The only premises seemingly doing business are the MW & BB barber shop and the Flares nightclub at the top of the row.

In Great Horton Road, all the venues are padlocked and/or boarded up on the Alhambra side while opposite the former Love Apple has To Let signs; Aleppo’s windows are papered over; Castaways/Gasworks is boarded up; and Mode is boarded-up with the wooden frontage starting to crumble.

Shelagh O’Neill, assistant director for regeneration at Bradford Council, said: “The Council is looking to use the momentum created by Bradford Live’s opening to generate additional private sector investment in opening further, or re-opening former, leisure venues within the West End. Potentially available vacant or under used premises have been identified with the intention of promoting them to possible users in a concerted marketing initiative.

“A meeting will be set up shortly with owners/long lease holders or agents to involve them, bring them on board and obtain most up-to-date information. Hard copy and electronic material will be designed and produced ready to be used for promotion of opportunities, including presentation and discussion with identified potentially interested parties.

“This initiative is aimed at helping to address the problem of closed or rarely used venues. The area also gains from inclusion with the Council’s City centre Growth Zone where benefits include rate rebates for businesses creating new jobs.

“The Growth Zone scheme was recently utilised by Airobounce, who were supported to bring the vacant Mecca Bingo Hall site back into use in the city’s West End as a new children’s leisure facility.

“Wider initiatives relevant to the city centre include: the major refurbishment of St George’s hall, due for imminent completion; partial refurbishment of Sunwin House for occupation by new financial services company by this summer; the 1 City Park commercial opportunity; the Jacobs Well public hub; widened community activities proposed for City Hall; redevelopment and enhancement of the two indoor markets, including creation of an entirely new food market on Darley Street; Townscape Heritage Scheme helping to bring historic buildings back into use; and housing-led mixed use redevelopment of “Top of Town” centred around the creation of a vibrant, healthy and attractive City Village where people will want to live, work and play and where businesses will want to trade, invest and grow. The council has also been involved in providing support and input in the work undertaken on both the city’s train stations and towards establishing the Bradford BID.

“As an addition to the new church due to open in the area, in 2015 the Life Church opened a community centre in Belfry House, called Life City. This along with a number of other future developments will all play a part in on-going work to regenerate the West End quarter.

“There’s no single answer on how to encourage a thriving city centre but Bradford Live will have a hugely positive impact on the city centre and district as a whole.

“NEC’s commitment to operate from the refurbished former Bradford Odeon, will provide a substantial positive impact to the city centre, and the projected opening date is autumn 2020. The NEC Group is a live entertainment business with over 40 years of world-class expertise in venue and destination management. The project will drive in the region of £10.4m economic impact per annum by providing jobs, training, volunteering opportunities and over 200 events annually, attracting an anticipated 300,000 visitors to the city. The proposed events programme is wide and varied containing music, comedy and family entertainment. It will also offer hosting for private functions, flexible conference and meeting spaces and corporate events.

“In 2015, four separate businesses including Brewhaus Ltd, Stein Bier Keller (Bradford) Ltd, Tiki-O (Bradford) Ltd and Tokyo Industries (Bradford) Ltd all submitted application for four venues in the West End. Over £300,000 of grants were awarded in total towards all four businesses.

“The grants paid to the businesses were less than that requested by the business owner, however these had to be based on the Council’s valuation of the works carried out and verified by the quantity surveyor and no specific sums were promised prior to this.

“The amount of business rates is determined on the Rateable Value of the property. The Rateable values are set by the HMRC’s Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and appeals against the rateable value are dealt with by them. The Council has no involvement in this or over the length of time it may take to settle an appeal.

“From the information provided to us by the VOA regarding appeals, the only appeals which have been made are for the BierKeller and Tiki-O premises for the 2010 rating list which ran from 1/4/2010 to 31/3/2017. No new appeals for the 2017 rating list have yet been recorded."

Lee Craven, of Bradford Live which is behind the revamp of the Odeon, said: “It is looking sorry for itself. I think any use of the buildings would be welcome.

"The Alhambra brings people in but they disappear after the show. With more critical mass, people will stay in the city centre and go out to eat and drink.

"We'll be putting £10.4m into the local economy and will bring people in, perhaps people new to the city."

The plight of the West End was also raised during a discussion on Bradford Council's review in demand for its 222 Hackney Carriages in Bradford.

Ian Millership, a transport planner brought in by Councils to assess whether there was any unmet demand for Hackney Carriages, said that some taxi ranks in the city had an “oversupply” of Hackney Carriages.

The Regulatory and Appeals Committee meeting was on Thursday morning, and he told Councillors had arrived in Bradford on Wednesday night and spent the evening in the city. He said: “The main shopping centre shuts between 7pm and 8pm, and the rest of the city centre closes down not long after that.

“From Monday to Thursday there is very low demand for Hackney Carriages in the city centre.

“Walking around the city there are a lot of closed pubs and clubs, particularly near the Alhambra, where in the past there was a lot of demand.”

He recommended that Bradford did not need to increase its numbers of Hackney Carriages, and members voted to retain the limit of 222.