WORK to pedestrianise some of Bradford city centre’s main roads began yesterday, and it is hoped the work will “encourage people to spend more time in the city.”

The closure of Hall Ings, Market Street and other city streets to traffic was first announced in March 2020, when Government awarded Bradford millions from its Transforming Cities Fund.

The funding was part of the devolution deal between Government and West Yorkshire, and was aimed at making the city centre more attractive to pedestrians.

The main project is a shake up of how traffic passes through the city centre. Hall Ings’ four lanes of traffic will become a new city centre park, while Market Street will become a pedestrian street that can host stalls, events and bring more “café culture” to the centre.

Traffic will be encouraged to divert around the main city centre, rather than cut through it, and new bus routes went live on Sunday.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Market Street before the closureMarket Street before the closure (Image: T&A)

The overall scheme will cost £43m, and recent releases by Bradford Council have highlighted that this Department for Transport cash “cannot be used for other purposes, such as delivering day to day services or other projects.”

The project goes hand in hand with the creation of a new entrance to Bradford Interchange, and entrance that will lead straight onto the Hall Ings pedestrianised area.

But why is all this work taking place?

A recent document produced to support the work claims it will turn this area of the city centre from one that people pass through in a car to get elsewhere to somewhere people want to spend time.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The planned park on Hall IngsThe planned park on Hall Ings

The Environmental Appraisal produced for the work also claims it will aid regeneration by encouraging empty buildings in the pedestrian areas, and on the new bus routes, to be brought back into use.

It says the changes will help create “high quality pedestrianised public realm that provides opportunities for café culture.”

The document says the city has been cut into pieces by busy roads that many drivers use to cut through the centre, rather than travel to shops and businesses there.

The heavy car traffic through the centre also causes issues with pollution and road safety - it argues.

The report says: “Over the past few decades, the level and type of investments in Bradford’s infrastructure have not kept pace with its growing population and changing demographics, developing trends in city centre living and the increased focus on environmental sustainability.

“This under-investment has resulted in a city centre that is dominated by road traffic.

“For Bradford to achieve the growth it is seeking, the centre needs to be more attractive for businesses and prospective urban residents.

“The severe congestion and poorly enforced bus priority measures on key routes to, from and within the city centre have resulted in unreliable and longer journey times for buses thereby reducing the attractiveness and patronage of bus services, with strategic implications for investment decisions on bus infrastructure and services.

“The proposed scheme will improve access and safety for people walking and cycling by removing traffic from core routes within the city centre and providing improved crossing facilities on Manchester Road at Jacobs Well roundabout.

“The street environment will be improved through the creation of new public spaces and landscaping, making the city centre an attractive place to live, work and socialise.

“The creation of a new transport corridor between Bradford Interchange and Forster Square stations will improve the reliability and access of bus routes through the city centre, encouraging the use of sustainable public transport.”

Referring to the layout of the city centre before the work started, the document said: “Areas in the centre suffer from a sense of isolation due to the busy, dual carriageway roads that divide the city centre core.

“In particular, Hall Ings acts as a barrier to pedestrian movements between Bradford Interchange, the city’s bus and rail interchange, and the rest of the city centre.”

Referring to the Conservation areas in the city centre, the report says: “The reduction in through traffic will generate an area with high quality public realm that will promote the replacement of parking areas and low-quality infrastructure for new developments of high-quality design.

“It would encourage projects to regenerate listed buildings following the success of St Peter’s House (Kala Sangam).”

And referring to how the work will make the city a more pleasant place to be, it says: “By reducing the dominance of the vehicle and creating meaningful, high quality spaces to encourage a café culture would improve human interaction for local people.

“Pedestrianisation and greening of Hall Ings and Jacob’s Well and creation of purposeful public open space and green parks, which provide opportunities for meeting people and relaxation will improve human interaction and inspire a greater sense of community. This will encourage people to spend more time in the city, as well as attracting visitors from further afield.

“Public realm improvements would provide a high quality setting in which to celebrate the traditional architecture and historic culture of the city. This would be a platform for contemporary cultural developments and influences.”

The work is expected to be completed by the end of the year.