By Ninder Kaur
Bradford’s biggest retail development of 2015 is officially opened.
Hundreds of people queued outside The Broadway shopping centre for the 10am opening.
Alexandra Burke , winner from 2008’s X Factor, arrived in the city for the official opening. She did the honours by officially opening The Broadway centre with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the main Petergate Mall. Other representatives of Bradford city including the city’s Burns Research Unit and the world’s longest married couple, Karam and Kartari Chand of Girlington, were also on site to open other entrances at the same time.
Before the official opening took place more than 300 people were given exclusive access to the centre two hours before opening for a VIP viewing and an exclusive performance by Alexandra.
For years, the site of The Broadway has been a huge empty space in the centre of Bradford, known to many as ‘The hole in the ground’ and ‘Wastefield’.
Council leader Dave Green said:”This centre will mean that there will be an increase in confidence and belief in the city centre. This is all part of a catalyst to make Bradford city centre back to what it should be.”
He also urged that the people of the city should look to the future rather than dwell on the troubled history of the city centre development.
The development has created 2,500 jobs and Westfield has predicted it will increase footfall in the city centre generally by 40 per cent.
Duncan Bower, Director of Development at Westfield, spoke of the “iconic moment” that will go down in history as The Broadway centre finally opened its doors. “This is Bradford’s day,” added Mr Bower.
The investor behind the scheme, Meyer Bergman, said Bradford was ready for The Broadway.
Company principal George Walsh-Waring said: “Bradford has got a good economy, youthful population and concentrated catchment. The people of Bradford wanted a new centre, a new retail focal point. We are delighted, for all those reasons, to be investing in a city with a thriving economy.”
Singer Alexandra Burke, best known for winning the X-Factor and her cover of the Leonard Cohen song Hallelujah, said: “I was in Bradford a couple of months ago with The Bodyguard musical. The new centre is great for Bradford. It’s great for the community. There are a lot of people out there, so its nice to be part of this day.
She added: “I heard the history behind it and how long it’s taken so, hearing all of that, it’s such a privilege to be asked to come here today and open the new shopping centre.”
Professor David Sharpe and Ajay Mahajan, plastic surgeon and director of Plastic Surgery and Burns Research in Bradford opened one of the centre’s main street mall. Mr Mahajan said: “The opening of the Broadway centre has been much awaited and it feels great to be part of this important event in the history of Bradford. I would like to congratulate everyone involved in bringing this project to fruition and I am sure that it will help change the face of Bradford city. We at the PSBRU are proud to be a part of this city.”
M&S Manager Steve said: “We didn’t anticipate this many people. I am just so blown away by everyone’s enthusiasm. It just goes to show that people want to shop in Bradford. It’s so great to see so many people come out. It’s great for Bradford, it’s great for M&S and we are glad to be a part for it.”
Thousands flocked the new centre and were impressed by the new development. Shoppers were given exclusive offers for the stores and a number of performances were taking place throughout the day.
The centre boasts a number of stores including M&S, Debenhams, H&M, Next, Topshop, Schuh, Foot Asylum, Boots, Superdry, River Island, New Look. There will be a seven-unit food court and a range of nationally recognised restaurants including Patisserie Valerie, Taco Bell and Wrap Chic. Also, South Asian fashion stores Khaadi and Aab managed to secure retailing units and the stores are due to open soon.