The developers behind Brad-ford’s eagerly-awaited £320m retail development on Broadway say they are keen to start construction work as soon as possible.

Preparatory ground works have almost been completed and Westfield says there will be less activity on the site, which is set to house a prestigious 587,000 sq ft shopping mall with around 100 retailers, for a short period.

The developer says construction will go ahead once more tenants have been signed up and their requirements have been finalised.

The Australian-based group said it had always made it clear that a number of pre-let tenants were required before construction went ahead.

In a statement, the company said: “We are currently working hard to secure the remaining pre-lets and finalise the designs, as it is our wish to commence the construction works as soon as possible.

“We have already spent in excess of £80m on the site and we remain committed to the project.

“This confidence is echoed by the number of retailers that have signed contracts to take new shop units within the scheme.”

The company has prepared marketing materials to help promote the scheme to retailers in order to secure the high-quality, national retailers which it is targeting for Westfield Bradford.

Sub-contractors have told workers that ground works will come to an end in three weeks and that some employees will be leaving the project at the end of next week.

The development, which forms an integral part of Bradford’s ambitious regeneration plans, has already secured commitment from several anchor tenants.

These include Marks & Spencer, Next and Debenhams, which will return to the city for the first time following the closure of Busby’s store on Manningham Lane in the mid-1970s.

Westfield has also signed up six retailers from the Arcadia Group, including Topshop/Topman, Dorothy Per-kins, Burtons, Wallis, Miss Selfridge and Evans.

The company also recently announced that River Island would be taking space.

At the beginning of this year, Westfield began preparatory works on the site.

In February the company rented 20,000 square feet of offices in Vicar Lane from where the project will be managed The offices will eventually house the construction team as well as architects, engineers and project managers.

A Westfield spokesman said: “We have made very good progress on site and we are getting to the stage when the majority of the enabling works have been completed.

“The next stage will be the start of the construction works including the structural steelwork.

“The major retailers have individual req-uirements and the structure must be designed accordingly to avoid expensive abortive work.

“We remain confident that we can deliver a modern, state-of-the-art scheme.”

Mark Martin, of the construction workers’ union UCATT, visited the Bradford site yesterday. He said he believed the slowdown in work was “not the end of the world.”

He said it was common in the construction industry for projects to be developed in planned phases.

He said: “Sub-contractors would normally transfer people to other sites but the downturn in the industry means that there are not so many other projects under way and this move throws that situation into sharp focus.”