A regeneration chief has moved to reassure people about the progress of Bradford's £300 million Broad-way shopping scheme.

Councillor Andrew Mallinson, Bradford Council's executive member for regeneration, said there was "great confidence" developer Westfield would start construction work in the new year.

Westfield had previously stated it had hoped to start work in the second half of this year.

Coun Mallinson said building work had yet to start because the Austr-alian company was still signing up retailers to take lettings in the shopping centre.

Debenhams and BHS are the main tenants to take space in the yet-to-be-built centre. There will be more than 80 other shops, 171 apartments and 1,800 parking spaces.

Coun Mallinson said Westfield had already invested heavily in the Broadway project and was fully committed to it, but the apparent lack of progress has led the Liberal Democrat group to call for an urgent report into the future of the Broadway scheme.

Councillor David Ward said he feared Westfield was either being side-tracked by its increased involvement in London's White City shopping scheme or was struggling to find tenants for the Broadway Centre.

He said: "It seems to me that something has gone badly wrong."

Coun Ward said his group would be putting down a series of questions for the next meeting of Bradford Council to press for answers as to why major construction work was yet to start.

He said he had already called for an urgent report into the future of the development, while group leader Councillor Jeanette Sunderland had been seeking talks with the Council's director of regeneration.

Westfield has declined to comment on Coun Ward's claims.

A Bradford Council spokesman said it had spoken to Westfield about the change of contractor for the White City development and was confident it would have no implications for the Broadway development.

Coun Mallinson said: "We are still waiting for Westfield to come on site.

"There's great confidence Westfield will be on site early next year.

"There is still an issue around Westfield signing up lettings. With the amount of money it has invested so far, it would be ridiculous for it to walk away now."

Westfield acquired the Broadway development in December 2004, when it took over the parent company of Stannifer, the firm which had been spearheading the scheme.

A Council spokesman said: "There are likely to be some changes to the scheme and the planning department are discussing these with Westfield."

The spokesman said the Council was not yet in a position to say what these changes might be.

e-mail: will.kilner@bradford.newsquest.co.uk