I MUST confess I am struggling to see the logic behind marketing the Richard Dunn Sports Centre site as an opportunity to create the Odsal District Retail Centre.

On the long list of hoped-for improvements to the many districts of Bradford, a new shopping centre for Odsal seems to be a long way down. I don’t live in Odsal but I haven’t previously picked up a clamour among local residents for such a facility. Even a search of the internet fails to throw up any items about a shortage of shops there or a demand for more.

So, where has the idea come from? Well, it could date back to the multiple and varied campaigns to redevelop Odsal Stadium, most of which contained elements of retail and/or leisure as a means of funding the rebuilding of the stadium itself.

But as Bradford Council turned its nose up at most of them – especially after the “Odsal Superdome” farce – it would surely seem inconsistent, to say the least, if they were behind it. I seem to remember planners citing arguments such as “no demand” and “damage to other nearby stores” (such as Morrisons on Mayo Avenue) as reasons to reject proposals for new supermarkets there.

And yet the proposal Bradford Council is putting out to developers describes the site as “an exciting opportunity to create a new retail ‘gateway’ development… in a prime location.”

It says the development will allow for a “range of uses,” including “a supermarket, non-food retail, banks, building societies, restaurants and local public facilities.”

I can’t agree with the Conservatives’ leader on the Council, John Pennington, that “companies aren’t building supermarkets anymore” – especially given that Lidl are (at last) building one to replace the former Bradford & Bingley headquarters smack in the centre of his own constituency.

Neither can I agree with his view that a retail park is a “non-starter”; on the contrary, I think developers will jump at the chance to develop a site with such good transport links, nearby sporting facilities that draw in crowds and a sizeable residential catchment area.

But I do agree with Cllr Pennington that it may not be in Bradford’s best interests in the long-term to create a retail park there.

The marketing speak, in itself, is a clue to why we should be concerned; the term “gateway” implies visitors would pass through it – but on their way to where? Is it realistic to believe shoppers will drive along the M62 and M606 to Odsal, stopping off to buy their groceries before carrying on into the city centre to visit more shops?

Do people really drive to the White Rose Centre before heading on in to Leeds, for instance? On the other hand, if it’s purely a “district” shopping centre, is it really a gateway at all?

Either way, it’s interesting to note that the Odsal site is 6.8 hectares and The Broadway shopping centre, in comparison, is some 28 per cent smaller at just 5.3 hectares.

The reality is the site is big enough to open the door to a White Rose-style, out-of-town shopping centre which must surely impact on the city centre itself, whether it’s Odsal residents or those from further afield who might choose to stay away?

Back at the top of that list of much-needed improvements, the greatest demand in Bradford is for housing, we are told – and surely this site is tailor-made for it?

With a decent proportion of affordable homes included, the Odsal site is big enough for around 200 houses. And the argument stacks up for all the same reasons as the retail plan: new leisure facilities, good transport links, a gateway to Bradford’s improving city centre – oh, and there are a few supermarkets nearby as well.

But as the site project manager, Andy Ross, told members of the South Area Committee, a fast sale will mean the Council can pay off the borrowing on the £17.5 million Sedbergh Sports Centre “a lot quicker.”

Money talks – but it doesn’t always say the right thing.

* Children's book scheme is a real summer Beano

WELL done to Bradford Libraries for taking up the national initiative to encourage primary age children to continue to read through the summer holidays which, research shows, improves their enjoyment of reading, their range, confidence and motivation and helps prevent a seasonal dip in their literacy skills.

The Mischief Makers Summer Reading Challenge is celebrating the 80th anniversary of The Beano comic and children will be enticed with posters, stickers, bookmarks and wristbands to collect and a medal and certificate if they complete six books. Shame it’s just for children!

* Decision may help open gate to Little Germany’s future

TALKING of “gateways”, it’s a mystery to those who admire the quality and splendour of Little Germany’s buildings why it has never fully lived up to its potential to be a thriving, lively centre of commerce and leisure.

It’s a lovely place to wander if you are interested in history, heritage or architecture and a good part of it provides a pleasant and quiet environment in which to live and work.

One reason it has not proved to be the magnet it should be may be the lack of “gateways” to draw people in, even literal ones such as welcoming wrought-iron archways at key points. But it also needs more attractions on its fringes to show the outside world it’s alive and bustling, so granting of planning permission for a proposed restaurant in College Mill is a step in the right direction.