After years of uncertainty, the company behind a proposed new leisure development in Bradford city centre has announced that the scheme is “no longer viable” and are looking for other uses for the land.
Forster Square Leisure was to be a multi million pound redevelopment scheme that would see a cinema, gym, restaurants and other leisure facilities built on the former Royal Mail site near Forster Square Rail Station.
With its proximity to the station, the Broadway Shopping Centre, Forster Square Retail Park and the city centre itself – it was seen as one of the biggest regeneration projects in the city.
But after years of inactivity on site – of the lack of any announcements or start date, many in the city accepted that the project was unlikely to go ahead.
The likelihood of the scheme emerging was further harmed by the opening of the Light Cinema in Broadway, just a few minutes walk from the planned new cinema, the opening of several new gyms in the city centre and a number of leisure and play facilities opening.The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked British Land for an update on the scheme last month, with a spokesman only responding “The options for the site continue to be considered.”
Bradford Civic Society is one of the groups who have pushed for British Land to do something with the site, suggesting a park or other public space. This week British Land responded to the the Society with a letter setting out the current situation with the site. It said: “As a major stakeholder within Bradford City Centre, British Land are also keen to see a viable option progressed on the site.
“Unfortunately since the planning permission in 2016 the retail and leisure market has materially declined resulting in the proposed development no longer being economically viable.
“In the meantime we have reviewed other viable options for the site and continue to progress conversations with a number of different operators.
“We have also looked to work with the local community where possible to use the land in a positive way.
“This included providing the site to a local production company for a local filming project last year, and working with Bradford Council regarding using the site for Covid 19 testing, however the Council found more suitable options.
“We are endeavouring to find a viable solution for the site and will update the local community at the earliest opportunity.”
Si Cunningham, Chair of Bradford Civic Society, said: “I’m grateful to British Land for taking the time to respond to my questions and clarify their position for the people of Bradford, which has been unclear up until now.
“While I’m disappointed that there isn’t any imminent activity planned, I’m quite excited about the opportunity to do something much better for Bradford now that we have a blank canvas once again.
“British Land should now look to work with Bradford Council and the community to come up with something far more sustainable for the site.
“Lots of people have said that they’d like a new city centre park with proper play facilities. I quite like the idea of something that no other city would do, like a massive outdoor lido. It really could be a great space, if used properly.”