THE £22 million project to improve access to Bradford Interchange will make it a “world class gateway” to the city – a meeting has been told.

The work will see the Hall Ings car park demolished and a new pedestrian entranceway to the Interchange – recently referred to as “the country’s ugliest station.”

The project was discussed by West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee at a meeting on Friday, when members heard of the “tight” timetable for the work due to the need for it to be completed by 2025 for Bradford’s City of Culture celebrations.

The work is being funded by Government through its Transforming Cities Fund, and will be accompanied by the pedestrianisation of neighbouring Hall Ings and the creation of a new city centre park.

The plans were first proposed in 2019, and Government approved funding in March 2020.

A report on the work that went to the Combined Authority said the refurbished station will include

  • Improvements to the Interchange’s lower-level concourse to make it easy to use and a more attractive and secure environment
  • Clearer signage and customer information
  • A paved plaza outside the interchange with planting, artwork, and seating
  • A new, taxi rank and accessible drop off on Bridge Street

The report goes on to say that the new entrance “would make Bradford city centre a safer, more welcoming and accessible place.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The NCP car parkThe NCP car park (Image: newsquest)

It adds: “This scheme includes new public spaces which will help to cater for increased demand, linking the Interchange to the city with new pedestrianised and green spaces via Hall Ings and Bridge Street.

“The increased number of visitors, expected to visit Bradford when it becomes the UK City of Culture in 2025, will also benefit from the improvements to the interchange and a more attractive gateway to the city centre.”

At the meeting Jonathan Rogers, who is helping deliver the Transforming Cities Fund projects, said: “The Interchange’s ability to act as a key gateway is limited by its location behind other buildings, including this NCP car park.”

He went on to describe sections of the station as “poor quality” adding: “This scheme aims to create a world class gateway to Bradford. There will be a seamless link between all transport modes.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A bird's eye view of the planned worksA bird's eye view of the planned works (Image: Bradford Council)

“An extremely attractive plaza area will replace the current congested taxi area.

“The work will create a vibrant station that is a much better gateway to Bradford. The work is expected to drive up bus and rail passenger numbers.”

Referring to the current station he said: “It is not visually appealing, especially as the first sight for a visitor to the city.”

The work will be fast tracked – particularly with the deadline of having it complete by Bradfords 2025 City of Culture year.

Councillor Alex Ross Shaw, Bradford Council’s Executive for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “Along with the pedestrianisation of Hall Ings and Market Street this is a very tight programme, but I’m confident we can deliver it in time for City of Culture.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: An artist's impression of the new plaza in front of the InterchangeAn artist's impression of the new plaza in front of the Interchange (Image: Bradford Council)

“The Interchange isn’t the gateway to the city that it should be.

“In fact it is the perfect argument for rail investment in Bradford – whenever politicians come to Bradford by train this is the first thing they see.”

Leeds Councillor Eleanor Thompson raised concerns that in the new plans taxi drop off parking spaces would actually be further away from the station than they currently are. She said this could create accessibility issues for disabled users.

Mr Rogers said the Authority was working with Bradford Council to ensure the station is fully accessible to all, but in general the station will be more accessible after the work due to the improved entrance and plaza.

Cllr Ross Shaw added: “If you use the interchange as it is, it doesn’t feel the most accessible place. We may be moving the drop off point further away, but it will probably still be a better experience for disabled users.”

Calderdale Councillor Jane Scullion was enthusiastic about the scheme, saying: “We’re getting rid of a multi storey car park that is already coming to the end of its life. I say we just do this.”

Members voted to release £2m of funding for the scheme to move to the next stage – the full business case needed before work starts.