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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Top Bradford architect praises City Park as example as good urban development investment

A top architect says City Park was a key factor in attracting NEC groups to Bradford.

A top Bradford architect has used Bradford’s City Park as an example of how good urban design can attract investment.

Amir Hussain, managing director of Bradford based Yeme Architects, said the NEC group was persuaded to take on the Bradford Live project in the former Odeon building partly because City Park was on its doorstep.

He was speaking at a meeting of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Place, Regeneration and Housing Committee last week when members were discussing public realm design.

A report to members detailed how a programme set up by the Authority offered support to any organisation looking to design new public space in West Yorkshire.

Founder and CEO of Yeme Architects, Amir Hussain.

The report said: “Improving design quality of the public realm and of housing has wide-ranging impacts: by creating pleasant outdoor spaces with green infrastructure, we encourage active travel and socialising in those spaces, building stronger communities where everyone feels welcome, and improving physical and mental health as well as reducing carbon emissions and flooding.”

Helen Forman, urban design manager at the Combined Authority, said the programme would help train those designing new spaces, and had influenced designs for a number of projects being funded by the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund.

In Bradford the TCF is funding, among other things, the pedestrianisation of Hall Ings and the new public space it will create.

Mr Hussain, whose business is based on Sunbridge Road, was chairing the committee.
He said a good public space could attract investment – referring to the new Bradford Live development.

That project, currently under construction, will see the former Odeon building turned into a live music venue.

Mr Hussain said: “You have to look at Bradford where City Park was put in and it has had an impact.

“I spoke to the NEC group about why they chose to come to Bradford and they said they saw the stunning (former Odeon) building and the great public realm and infrastructure that was already there.

“It is about understanding all the things that can be unlocked by a good design.”

However, he did raise concerns that a design plan could lead to “paint by numbers” developments that fail to reflect local areas or the creativity of their designers.

Mrs Forman said while there were some standards designers were expected to work to, there would flexibility that would allow different projects to remain unique.

She said: “We want to remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder rather than something that can be measured.

“The Transforming Cities Fund projects will be about understanding who uses these spaces.”

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