27/Aug/2014 - Last News Update: 11:04

Bradford election focus on Odeon and Westfield

Category: England

Published: 25th Apr 2012 11:12:29

Bradford's recession-delayed Westfield shopping centre and the derelict Odeon cinema have been at the forefront of election campaigns in the city in recent years.

Work on the Westfield development started in 2004 but was halted in 2008 when the economy stalled, leaving a large building site in the city centre.

There are now plans for a scaled-down version of the scheme, although a date for when work will restart on the site has not been set.

The Odeon closed in 2000 and its landmark facade has been left virtually untouched.

The Homes and Communities Agency owns the cinema and plans to demolish it as it says restoring the building would be too expensive.

As people in the city prepare to elect councillors for a third of Bradford's seats on 3 May, political parties have told the BBC their views on the issues.

The future of the Odeon was high on George Galloway's list of priorities during the campaign which led to him being elected as Bradford West's MP last month.

There is much talk at the moment of a new impetus generated by the recent by-election result, but talk is cheap and it is hard to see how an MP will speed up the scheme”

A spokesman for his Respect Party - which is fielding candidates in 12 of the city's 30 wards - said it was "in contact with the developers, owners and others with the aim of halting the proposal".

He added: "If this is achieved, there should be wide consultation and analysis to find ways to explore alternative proposals and funding mechanisms."

The party criticised the delays which had led to a "gigantic hole" being left at the Westfield site and said it was concerned the impact of opening a new shopping centre had not been adequately examined.

The Conservatives said they wanted to see the shopping centre completed as soon as possible but Westfield could not be forced to start work before it was ready.

Councillor Simon Cooke, the Bradford group's deputy leader, said: "If the demand was there at present I do not doubt that the developer would have the building up and open in double quick time to maximise their profits.

"There is much talk at the moment of a new impetus generated by the recent by-election result, but talk is cheap and it is hard to see how an MP will speed up the scheme, though I would be delighted if this happened."

The Conservatives said they also believed the Odeon building - or at least its twin towers - should be saved and could be used for a new central library.

Labour, which controls the city council, said the Westfield development was a top priority and planning permission for the scaled-down version of the scheme was approved in October.

A spokesman said: "As a result, Debenhams have announced that they will take one of the major stores.

"Since that time we have been in constant contact with Westfield who have based a full technical team in Bradford, have a full leasing team working with retailers and have committed additional funds to the project."

He said Labour wanted to see a solution that retained as much as possible of the Odeon building.

"We will look at any future plans, public or private, to develop a sustainable and viable plan to save all, or as much of the building as possible and that supports the regeneration of the city centre," he said.

Bradford's Green Party said it also wanted to see as much as possible of the Odeon saved for public use.

Shipley Councillor Martin Love said: "With the opening of the new City Park the currently forlorn state of the building is there for all to see and what should be a building which compliments the park is instead a detractor."

On Westfield, he said: "We are disappointed that the new designs for the reduced-scale development do not uphold the ambition of truly connecting Bradford to the outside world by having a through rail link and fear that the eventual product will, whilst preferable to the existing hole in the ground, be an identikit shopping centre, the same as every other one, rather than something unique to Bradford."

UKIP Bradford chairman Jason Smith said he had called for a referendum on the future of the Odeon in 2007 and the party had been campaigning for its retention as a concert hall or conference venue.

Mr Smith said UKIP has also been the most outspoken party on the Westfield scheme, urging Bradford City Council and Westfield to complete the development and kickstart regeneration of the city centre.

The Liberal Democrats have not responded to requests for comment.

BBC News External Link Show Citation

Latest News

Harvard Citation

BBC News, 2012. Bradford election focus on Odeon and Westfield [Online] (Updated 25th Apr 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1424451/Bradford-election-focus-on-Odeon-and-Westfield [Accessed 27th Aug 2014]

News In Other Categories

  • IMF's Christine Lagarde 'under investigation'

    IMF head Christine Lagarde says she has been placed under formal investigation for negligence in French fraud case but has not been charged.
  • Deep Throat copyright claim thrown out by US judge

    Claims that a film about actress Linda Lovelace bore striking similarities to 1972 pornographic film Deep Throat have been dismissed by a US judge.
  • Bristol Academy extends reach overseas with first foreign students

    With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
  • Liverpool sex attack and robbery: Second youth charged

    A second youth has been charged following an attack on two people in Liverpool.
  • Ebola outbreak: Nigeria closes all schools until October

    All schools in Nigeria have been ordered to remain shut until 13 October as part of measures to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.
  • First-time buyer numbers 'at seven-year high'

    The number of first-time buyers in Scotland has reached a seven-year high, according to lenders.