DARLEY Street used to be the beating heart of Bradford’s retail district – a thriving high street packed with big names.

But these days the big names are long gone and Darley Street looks a forlorn shadow of its former self.

The tired old department stores, like Marks & Spencer, are boarded up husks and the few remaining units which are still open are mostly charity shops.

Somehow Darley Street just can’t seem to catch a break.

When Poundworld opened a new flagship store earlier this year the company crashed into administration a couple of months later – and the store returned to its previous existence as an empty unit.

Of course, Darley Street isn’t unique.

Nearly every town has similar sad sights as the effects of online shopping, high rents and rising costs exact a grim toll on Britain’s high streets.

But for Darley Street all may not be lost.

Steve Le Shaw, who runs the popular Al’s Dime Bar on North Parade, has submitted a planning application to open a new bar in the unit once occupied by Game, promising a substantial investment in the building.

A bar might not be a retail outlet but it’s time we realised that the big stores have gone and they won’t be coming back. We need to think creatively to save what’s left.

And with Bradford Council preparing ambitious plans to transform the old M&S into a new market perhaps there could be a happy ending for Darley Street after all.