A FORMER department store in Bradford's Top of Town area could soon be transformed into a "virtual reality experience."

The Boyes store on North Parade was closed last year, after the business moved to the Kirkgate Shopping Centre.

The 40,147 sq ft store was listed at auction last Spring - selling for £225,000, although it has been empty ever since.

However a new planning application has revealed an unexpected future for the building.

Bradford Council has received an application to change the use of part of the building, Unit 2, from retail to leisure use - namely a virtual reality experience.

The application, submitted by Zeeshan Khan, is for an area of the building facing Rawson Square.

If approved, this section of the former store will see shop space converted into an area where customers han don high tech VR gear and immerse themselves in games and virtual experiences.

It says the business would create three full time and two part time jobs.

The application says: "The building is over one hundred years old.

"It was proposed by our client to convert the retail unit into a virtual reality experience. Customers will come to the unit to experience virtual reality through different games and activities."

Si Cunningham, Chair of Bradford Civic Society, said: "It’s certainly one of the most eye-catching planning applications I’ve seen. It’s like something from Back to the Future.

"I welcome the occupation of a big building in a conservation area, and it seems like these kind of ‘experience-led’ uses are the way forward for our city centres.”

A decision on the application is expected next month.

The discount shop opened in the former Christopher Pratts store on North Parade to great fanfare in 2003, with hopes it would breathe new life into the city centre.

When it shut the North Parade store, management said the closure of Morrisons on Westgate and plans to turn flatten the Oastler Centre to create a new "urban village" meant the Kirkgate Centre was more viable for the business' future.

North Parade has undergone major changes in recent years, with a number of new bars transforming the street into a popular evening destination.

Funding has been secured by Bradford Council to improve Rawson Square - which will be next to the new business.

And in the coming years the Council plans to open a new market on Broadway - knocking down Oastler Market and creating a new 1,000 home "City Village."

The virtual reality centre would be the latest in a number of leisure businesses in the city centre.

Last year Monster Adventure opened an axe throwing and archery centre on Rawson Road.

And in 2018 Funzy, an inflatable activity centre, opened in the Leisure Exchange and Airobounce, a trampoline park, opened in the former Mecca Bingo at Bradford Ice Rink.

Planning permission was recently granted to open a Ninja Warrior activity centre in the Broadway Shopping Centre, and a decision on whether to allow a climbing wall to open in the centre is due in the coming weeks.