The company behind the £340 million Broadway shopping scheme has signed up a third anchor tenant in a "positive step" forward for the city centre project.

High street fashion retailer Next will take a prime store in the £340 million development, trading over two levels and occupying 3,075 square metres within the complex.

The deal, announced today by shopping centre developer Westfield, has calmed fears that the project was beginning to suffer at the hands of the credit crunch.

Only a fortnight ago, Councillor Andrew Mallinson, Bradford Council's executive member for regeneration, warned that the scheme was facing "new complications" owing to uncertain economic conditions.

Westfield described today's announcement as "a positive step in the right direction" but stopped short of announcing a start date for construction work on the long-awaited scheme.

Peter Miller, director of development, design and construction for Westfield, said: "Next is a key retail partner of Westfield's in the UK and we look forward to continuing to work successfully together at Bradford.

"They will take a store in a prime location along the main fashion mall adjacent to other top national and international retailers."

Debenhams and Marks & Spencer have already signed up as anchor tenants, while six retailers from the Arcadia Group will also take stores in the complex.

The deal enables Next to expand its existing presence within Bradford, with the Broadway store adding to a large shop on the Forster Square Retail Park.

A Next spokesman said: "Bradford presents an excellent opportunity for us and we are delighted to be part of this development which will transform the retail offer of the city."

The spokesman added: "The Next store in Forster Square will remain open."

Mike Cartwright, of Bradford Chamber of Commerce, said: "This is great news. The signing of a top quality high street retailer has got to be good for shoppers and visitors to the city centre.

"Everyone is looking towards a formal start date now and I am sure that Westfield are trying their hardest to gear up for that.

"The more top quality retailers that come onboard, the sooner that start date will be realised."

Val Summerscales, of Bradford Chamber of Trade, said: "It's a positive step which we welcome and we see it as another move forward to securing a start date in the not-too-distant future."

Mrs Summerscales said she hoped the new Next store in the Broadway development would not impact on the company's existing operations on the Forster Square Retail Park.

"We hope they can sustain two stores, but it's a decision for them," she added.