AMBITIOUS plans have been revealed to bring a high-speed rail connection to Bradford in a bid to transform the district's economy.

Bradford Council's Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) Growth Strategy was launched yesterday and focuses on skills, education and unlocking growth at the Southern Gateway to the city.

The NPR Growth Strategy sets out the opportunities that are being sought as part of the campaign to bring Northern Powerhouse Rail to the whole of the North and specifically to Bradford.

READ MORE: PwC is moving to the city with 225 jobs

The Strategy covers six key areas, including a better-connected Bradford, which those behind the plan believing this offers an opportunity to create a more productive economic system across the whole of the North.

They also claim a NPR in the city centre will act as a catalyst for new residential and commercial development and improved local infrastructure.

The plan is not just about bringing faster, more efficient and frequent trains to the city, it is about connecting people to opportunities, improving skills and building Bradford's business base.

This has already been seen with the announcement that PwC is moving into new offices in Godwin Street, in part of the former TJ Hughes building.

Bosses are confident everything will be up and running in the Bradford home of their Assurance Department by May and their arrival in the city will create 225 jobs.

To ensure it is most effective, the local authority wants the rail strategy to be seamlessly integrated with HS2 - the high speed rail network set to directly connect London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds and Manchester by 2033.

High speed rail in Bradford city centre also has the potential to transform Bradford’s brand, increasing its attractiveness as a place to visit, live, study and invest.

It will also ensure Bradford has the best environment for growth, demonstrating how the Council and partners are putting in place the right delivery mechanisms, fostering a collaborative approach between the public and private sector and by exploring innovative approaches to funding.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council and Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority will share the vision set out in the strategy and the opportunities it will present to developers, investors and businesses looking to locate in the district, to an international audience at the property conference, MIPIM.

She said: "Since launching our Next Stop Bradford campaign to bring NPR to Bradford city centre, we have ensured Bradford’s voice is at the heart of the NPR debate. Transport for the North’s recent launch of their Strategic Transport Plan cemented our position on the network with a new line between Leeds and Manchester, via Bradford.

"This strategy is the next phase in our efforts to ensure Bradford is connected to a high-speed rail and it defines the economic opportunity for investors, developers and businesses as well as the opportunities it will bring to people living and working in the District.

"There is already a lot of confidence and momentum in the Bradford economy, not least the recent news that PwC is opening a brand-new Assurance Centre in the heart of the city.

"We want to build on this momentum and that is why we have launched this strategy at the world’s largest property conference, to demonstrate the scale of opportunity and forge a collaborative approach with the private sector to ensure we realise our ambitions.”

Will Richardson, Leeds Senior Partner for PwC, added: "As the youngest city in the UK, with strong business growth factors and an entrepreneurial spirit, Bradford is a city with many clear strengths and has a very bright future both on its own and also as part of a strong and vibrant City Region.

"It was these strengths which underpinned our recent investment in Bradford. We’ve

already recruited sixty members of staff from the local area and our plan is to grow this team over the coming years to well over 200 and improved high-speed connectivity to Bradford is going to play a vital role in ensuring we have the pipeline of talent our organisation needs.

"The launch of this Strategy is extremely promising for a business such as PwC as it sets out a clear vision for Bradford city centre, with improved connectivity at its core, and we are really looking forward to working with other organisations across Bradford to help the city to thrive over the coming years."