By Ninder Kaur

Bradford has had its fair share of bad publicity. Just recently, the city has been ranked as the worst place to live in the UK according to a survey by uSwitch. We would like to disagree.

With that being said, Bradford is well on its way to economic growth. From now until 2018, Bradford will be home to two amazing retail developments and a newly refurbished concert venue and we cannot wait.



Bradford Live is a group dedicated to the transformation of the much-loved Bradford Odeon building.

The former Odeon closed in 2000 and its demolition and redevelopment was approved in 2009, despite protests from campaigners. But this agreement was terminated in 2012, and Bradford Council bought the building for a nominal £1 sum a year later.

Since then, the organisation Bradford Live, led by Lee Craven, had decided to take on the building, with plans to turn it into a major live music venue.

Credit:Tim Ronalds Architects.
Credit:Tim Ronalds Architects.

The organisation intends to remove the 1969 cinema inserts and restore the building back to its original 1930 form.

By doing this, it could give a huge auditorium capable of holding 3000 people seated and up to around 4500 people stalls standing.  The capacity could be scaled up and down by opening or closing one or both of the two balconies.

In terms of the kind of shows that the building could accommodate, it is looking to be amplified music and other live events.  This includes ‘Bollywood’ and ‘Lollywood’ live shows.

Lee Craven, Project Director is very positive about the city’s project and said: “We believe there is no better place in the country than Bradford to tap into the demand for South Asian arts and entertainment.

He added: “Rather than have the occasional ‘one off’ show we would work with our operator partner to develop a series of regular Bollywood and Lollywood events.”

The venue hopes to host between 150 – 200 events for the main auditorium, with additional smaller events hosted in the former ballroom.

The overall cost to bring the entire distinctive building back to life is £15.6m. Right now, the outcome of a £5 million bid for funding from the Heritage Enterprise Scheme (HES), part of the Heritage Lottery Fund, has been requested which should be decided in January.

Credit:Tim Ronalds Architects.
Credit:Tim Ronalds Architects.

In terms of timescale, funding permitting, Bradford Live is looking to open its venue in 2018.

Key repair works have already been done on the building, including the full repair of the twin domes.  These works were finished off by the installation of twin flagpoles.



The £1million underground development is well on its way. Bradford’s first underground retail complex is like no other. The development which is currently being built will be incorporating Victorian and contemporary shop units together with trading streets barrows, restaurants and bars.

Sunbridge Wells will have a total of fourteen retail units, four bars and a restaurant.

It is the brain child of Graham Hall one of the partners behind the development.

It’s obvious that Graham is passionate about the development, as he said,” We know from the feedback that we get from people, that they’re 100% behind us, and we’re working really hard to get it completed as quickly as we can. Sunbridge Wells is truly unique and nothing will give me greater satisfaction than to see it open in all its glory early next year. Please be patient with us, it will be worth the wait.”

Sunbridge Wells Development
Sunbridge Wells Development

Frances Day, Marketing Director of the project said that Sunbridge Wells should have been open for business in Spring, but the expansion has pushed that date back slightly.

However, due to the amount of weird and wonderful challenges that keep popping up, she has confirmed that the team are now not putting an opening date on the development as it would only lead to disappointment.


Sunbridge WellsSunbridge Wells, features the site’s varied past, such as Victorian archways, bars from old police cells and a newly exposed quarry face. Most of which are being maintained as part of the development.

The shops are intended to be starter units for new businesses, and the development will also include an art gallery and regular arts and craft markets.

The tunnel, in the past, has been the hub for a nightclub and bottling plant, and some of the newly acquired buildings were Victorian homes.

One of the entrances to the shopping complex
One of the entrances to the shopping complex

There are still a few retail units available but they are getting snapped up quick.




We are three days away from the imminent opening of the £260 million shopping centre.

At 570,000 sq ft The Broadway will be the largest UK retail centre to open in 2015 and will create 2,500 new retail jobs and generate a 40 per cent increase in city centre footfall.

The new Broadway Bradford

The Broadway will be the home to leading department and fashion stores, including anchors Debenhams and Marks & Spencer, and high street fashion favourites H&M, Next, Topshop, Topman, New Look, Schuh, River Island and many more.

Myf Ryan, Westfield Director of Marketing, said: “Securing these retailers is yet another vote of confidence in both The Broadway and Bradford and will not only bring more choice to shoppers in Bradford but will also provide 2,500 new job opportunities.  The centre will also help deliver a significant boost to the local and regional economy whilst continuing to attract inward investment for the City’s regeneration.”

Bradford Council Leader, Coun David Green, said: “The opening of The Broadway shopping centre is obviously a real landmark for the city and it is great to see the enthusiasm generated by the top retailers such as Debenhams who are moving here for the first time.

Broadway b
The new Broadway Bradford Shopping development

“Confidence has been building in Bradford over the past few years. Since we secured City Centre Growth Zone funding, many businesses have taken advantage of the business rates relief and the capital grants that have been offered through this scheme. This has led to lots of different types of businesses springing up and good examples are the bars and cafes, which are now flourishing in the North Parade area. Their success helping to regenerate that area has led to this particular location reaching the finals of the Great British High Street competition.

Coun David Green added: “With the opening of the our new shopping centre and the more unique and independent shops that will be opening next year in the Sunbridge Wells tunnels, visitors will have a great shopping experience. It is predicted that footfall will be boosted by 40 per cent throughout the city centre and this can only benefit everyone.”

Its fair to say, despite Bradford earning a bad reputation, the city is well on its way to improving.

We can only hope next year that we score higher in the survey.