A RADICAL idea to demolish an entire row of shops and a shopping centre has been put forward by the head of Bradford Civic Society.

Si Cunningham, chairman of the society, has spoken out after the Telegraph & Argus reported last week that 10 of the stores in Kirkgate have now closed - leaving the street without half its shops.

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He has called for the street to be bulldozed to make way for a green space, much like City Park, which has proved extremely popular with residents and visitors to Bradford.

He said: "Kirkgate has been in decline for some years, and I think it was only ever going to get worse once Broadway opened.

"It’s starting to feel like a bit of a waste of time just looking at streets like Kirkgate in isolation – with the high street in the state it is nationally, it’s just not going to regenerate in the conventional sense.

"The new market being built on Darley Street should hopefully breathe a bit of new life into the area eventually, but I think something quite radical probably needs to be done to Kirkgate itself as it’s not really fit for purpose as a shopping street anymore.


"We’d be better off flattening the redundant shops, and eventually demolishing the Kirkgate Centre to create more green space.”

Last week outdoor retailer Millets became the latest to leave Kirkgate, with staff emptying the store.

On one side of the street is the city’s flagship McDonald’s restaurant and a Betfred bookmakers, but they are all that remain.

Many of the empty shops stand side by side after the former Money Shop and Freddies decided to move to John Street and Tyrell Street respectively.

Mr Cunningham explained his reasoning behind his idea to get rid of a row of shops.

He added: "City Park is a great example of where we’ve invested in vast car-free spaces that people actually go out of their way to visit, and perhaps we should be replicating that elsewhere in the city centre.

"Buildings like the Kirkgate Centre are so bulky and inward looking that I think the time has come to ask whether they’re fit for purpose anymore, or whether the land can be put to better use.

"Lots of people are talking about the lack of proper green space in town, and huge central park framed by historic buildings and the new market could become a new attraction in its own right. Would you rather have that in 20 years or a decaying high street?

"We’re a city with an increasing number of world-class cultural attractions, so I think we should be putting most of our effort and resources into enhancing that experience rather than constantly administering sticking plaster for the high street.

"If we get all that right and create a pleasant, safe environment for everyone, the shops and restaurants will follow."

A spokesman for the Kirkgate Centre said: "We would be delighted to welcome the Civic Society at any time to Kirkgate, along with the 12 million other annual visitors to our shops, which include Primark, TJ Hughes and Boyes."

  • Mr Cunningham has asked us to clarify that this is his personal opinion and not the official position of the Bradford Civic Society. We are happy to set the record straight.