A Leeds property developer is doing his bit to help Bradford shake off its reputation as a “poor cousin” of its neighbour.

Harry Sekhon is investing £2 million in renovating a 60,000 sq ft building to create prime Grade A office space in the heart of the city.

Mr Sekhon’s business Madisons Offices has acquired Latitude, 1 The Interchange, right on the doorstep of the city’s main train station and in the heart of the Gateway to Bradford.

Now he is inviting businesses to express their interest in the “flexible” modern office space.

The six-storey building on Nelson Street was one of two HMRC bases in Bradford city centre until it closed in 2019. When it was put on the market it was described as the “best located building” in the city. Just a five-minute walk from the city centre and a four-minute walk from the Bradford Travel Interchange it is also close to the A650, linking Bradford to the north and south.

Madison Offices describes it as the “perfect spot for businesses looking to establish a strong presence in this vibrant and growing city.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

It is the company's first venture into Bradford.

Mr Sekhon said: “The main attraction for me was obviously Bradford getting City of Culture 2025 and Bradford being the poor cousin of Leeds for so long, and in the shadow. Most businesses tend to go to either Leeds or Manchester if they come up North. They kind of skip Bradford.

“I saw this property on the market, which is in a great location directly outside the interchange, and it sort of all came together - Bradford City of Culture and bringing this building back into use as Grade A office space.

“It is starting to feel like Bradford is becoming more of a business hub. It feels like it is becoming a more prosperous place with the City of Culture coming.”

Despite everything the city has going for it there has not been much interest so far in the redeveloped building, but Mr Sekhon said: “We’re just remaining hopeful that we can attract corporate businesses to take office space.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Mr Sekhon, who is from Leeds, started developing small properties about 10 years ago, growing his portfolio to include a number of locations. He now has properties in Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield.

He developed his business idea when he rented an office in Leeds in a serviced office space: “I thought 'this is great',” he said.

“It’s an affordable office space for a start-up business and growing companies to expand, in a location amongst other businesses they could network and interact with. I thought it would be great to create something like that.”

He bought the building and adopted its name as the name of his company.

Latitude will be available to move into from December 1. So far Regus has signed up to take two of the floors.

Now Harry is looking for other companies to express an interest.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

“We have over 40,000 sq ft of space still available to rent,” he said. “We are quite flexible. Each floor is around 10,000 sq ft. We could have one business taking 40,000 sq ft, or we could have four or five occupiers. One on each floor.”

He said West Yorkshire combined authority was spending around £8 million on developing the area’s roads, and Madison is spending £2 million on renovating the building to bring it back into use.

“We are happy to invest here and we’re happy to have those conversations with other businesses,” he said.

He is hoping that Bradford’s status as City of Culture 2025 will lead to more businesses coming into the city and more interest in the office space.

A spokesperson for Madison Offices said: “We’re committed to investing in Latitude to make it an exceptional destination for head offices and large blue-chip occupiers. With its stunning modern design and unbeatable location, Latitude is the perfect place for businesses looking to make a mark in Bradford.

“Latitude boasts 116 parking spaces, making it one of the most accessible office buildings in the city. We’re thrilled to be a part of Bradford’s growth, and with the City of Culture 2025 on the horizon, it’s an exciting time to be investing in the area.

“Nearby, One City Park is being built by Bradford Council for £35m, highlighting the dire shortage of Grade A offices in the city. We’re excited to be a part of the solution and provide top-notch office spaces to businesses of all sizes and industries.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

The company says: “The City of Bradford district, which is the 7th most populous district in England according to the census of 2021, had a population of 539,776. A significant majority of the workforce in the district are self-employed, and new businesses are starting up at a rapid rate.

“The city also serves as the location of the corporate headquarters of numerous significant businesses, including Yorkshire Building Society, Yorkshire Water and Freeman Grattan Holdings. With prominent attractions including the Bradford Alhambra Museum, The Broadway, and the City Park among many others, the city has also developed as a destination for retail and leisure.

When he bought the property Mr Sekhon stressed the importance of ensuring it remained as office space.

He said: "We’re not turning an office building into apartments; we’re keeping it as offices.

“A lot of people don’t think there is a need or demand for office space anymore, there is a demand – but it has changed.

“Businesses don’t necessarily want big, open-plan floors. It would be in the past that one company would take a whole building. Now they might take one or two floors, and they want other amenities in the building.

“We want to get this building back into use. Yes, we are here to make money, but it is my passion to bring empty buildings back into use, too.

“A lot of companies are looking to invest in Bradford, they are just looking for the right building.”

Madisons Offices already has a range of fully furnished offices to let in Leeds, Pudsey and Wakefield, designed to meet the diverse needs of modern businesses. They are suitable for start-ups looking for a small office or established businesses needing a larger space.

The company says its serviced offices offer a “vibrant community of like-minded professionals, modern amenities and full flexibility of working hours with 24/7 access. All bills are included in the rent.