A CHARITY set up to help Bradford’s homeless has revealed plans to turn a city centre amusement arcade into a community centre.

The Immanuel Project has submitted a planning application to transform the former Leisuretime arcade on Westgate, which has been shut since last year.

If approved it would give the charity a new base in the heart of the city centre.

The Immanuel Project was set up in 2010, and offers the homeless breakfasts, hot drinks and services like haircuts, healthcare and clothing.

The original plan was for the charity to operate for just a few weeks, but has continued for over a decade and now offers support to hundreds of people each week.

The charity has most recently been based in a the former Che Bar on Chester Street, but earlier that year a planning application to convert that building into a restaurant was approved by Bradford Council.

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Under the new plans the charity would move to the other side of the city centre.

Plans for the Westgate building, which lies within the Bradford City Centre Conservation Area, will only apply to the ground floor of the building and a small section of the first floor.

Other parts of the building are used by two nightclubs, Lemon Shed and Trash.

The charity says the new community centre use would bring new life to the prominent building.

The application says that while an amusement arcade business would be lost through the development, there are three similar businesses within 100m of the site.

And it argues the removal of the arcade’s signage and window decals would improve the building’s appearance.

Two paid staff would work from the site, as well as 30 unpaid volunteers.

The application says: “The property’s position at the intersection of Westgate and Godwin Street is important as, together with the Westgate display of 95 Godwin Street (trading as ‘Perfect Fit’), it provides the first display window frontage north-west of the primary frontage stretch of Westgate.

“It is also very visible in the view looking south-west along Godwin Street’s primary-frontage.

“The active use as a community centre will animate the street-level frontage. This will attract attention and draw people towards the ends of the primary frontages.

“The proposed change of use will not alter the extent of retail floorspace. It will decrease amusement arcade floorspace, however there are at least three other amusement arcades within 100 m and many others within longer walking distance.

“Moreover the arcade whose space is to be removed is one of perhaps several which had been closed for many months before the coronavirus restrictions closed all arcades.

“The presently proposed change to community centre use will bring into use a unit previously in a use not noted as related to retail and presently unused.

“The unit in use as a community centre will not detract from the function of the shopping area but, on the contrary, will extend the range of services available and help to maintain and enhance it.”

A decision on the application is expected next month.