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Thursday, November 30, 2023

More detail on ‘City Village’

Plans for up to 1,000 new homes in Bradford city centre will be a regeneration project the likes of which have not been seen since the 1970s, a new report claims.

And it is hoped the “city village” which will see homes built on site of the Kirkgate Shopping Centre and Oastler Centre, as well as car parking space off Westgate, will revitalise part of Bradford that has seen “a downturn in fortune.”

The City Village scheme was first proposed several years ago, although there has been limited detail on the plans over the years.

The development has attracted controversy – Bradford Council claims creating homes in the city centre is needed to counter the “irreversible” decline in the high street.

Council bosses say leaving this area of the city as it is will lead to an “outdated, retail led and under-used part of the City Centre – with its current decline continuing over coming years.”

But critics have questioned using prime real estate to create new housing in a city with such low property value, and whether home buyers would want to live in a city centre.

On Tuesday Bradford Council bosses will receive an update on the City Village plans.

A new report reveals that the housing will be based on three main sites – the Oastler Centre site, the Kirkgate Centre site and on a number of Council owned car parks off Westgate.

The homes on this site will be an extension of the Chain Street housing development.

And owners of city centre buildings will be encouraged to “undertake more, and better quality conversion schemes within the area” to counter the poor quality private developments that have blighted parts of the city centre in recent years.

The first mention of City Village came when Bradford Council announced its plans to open a new market on Darley Street in 2017. This market, currently under construction, would replace the city’s two existing markets, Oastler and Kirkgate Market.

The plan was for Oastler Market to be demolished and replaced with housing.

Last year Bradford Council announced that it had purchased the Kirkgate Shopping Centre. Anchor tenant Primark would re-locate to Broadway Shopping Centre and Kirkgate would eventually be demolished, to be replaced with housing and public open space.

The remaining Kirkgate tenants would be offered support to re-locate.

The new report on the City Village plan, which will go before the Council’s Executive on Tuesday, says: “City Village is a large and ambitious regeneration initiative of a scale that has not been seen since the major city centre remodelling works carried out in the 1960s and 70s.

“It also involves the key objective to establish a new, large scale community in a location where the residential property market is still immature and emerging.

City Village map Image: LDRS

“Recent retailing and business trends have driven a downturn in fortunes for that part of the city centre, resulting in what once were quality high street shops becoming empty or accommodating secondary or low grade uses. “The creation of a new city village community will bring the critical mass of demand and spending power that will help to boost retail, business and leisure sectors and produce a truly economically sustainable city centre.”

Detailing how the top part of the city centre has declined in recent years, it says: “The major long-term changes in retail sector trends, together with the opening of the new Broadway Shopping Centre, had a profound effect on the City Village area, that was previously recognised as the City’s primary High Street location, but characterised now by streets of vacant or low-value shops.

“Although the fundamental practices and trends of how we shop that the city has experienced in the last ten years or more are almost certainly irreversible, it is hoped that a large City Village community will create a new type and scale of demand that will stimulate the creation of a smaller independent retail offer that will differ to but complement that now centred on the Broadway Centre and Forster Square areas.

“The scheme’s primary aim is to repurpose the City Village regeneration to create a green, healthy, sustainable and community friendly city centre neighbourhood of up to 1,000 new homes that with safer roads, landscaped public spaces, revitalised independent shopping, and business spaces will become a place where people will choose to live, work and thrive and where businesses will want to invest, trade and grow.”

At Tuesday’s Executive members will vote to move ahead with finding a preferred developer to move ahead with the scheme.

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