The Opportunities for Bradford. There must be some more?
New retailers: There are plenty of people who would shop in Bradford, if certain national multiple retailers were here and existing ones had a better presence. How often do you see people on the train / bus from Leeds with carrier bags from mainstream retailers, who wouldn't be out of place in Bradford. A few more quality independent retailers would also help, which could work on the back of multiple retailers.
Events: Bradford has got a great outdoor space now in the City Park, it has some existing events like the International Film Festival and the Classic Car Rally and a number of one off events at the theatres/galleries which could come together to form an event such as a Light Night.
Creative use of retail space: Over a fifth of city centre shops are empty, but there is lots that could be done with these, the oft mentioned pop up shops and galleries (Bradford already has a pop up arts space) and long term projects perhaps looking at alternative uses to retail, the Brixton Village is a successful example of this, as is the Igloo Ice Cream Parlour in Dewsbury, put in place by the Town Team there.
Markets: Bradford lost its traditional covered market in the 1970s redevelopment of the city centre, but the Oastler and Kirkgate markets still perform an important function. The markets could be a place (particularly in a city with so many different cultures) for buying, sitting and eating different types of food. Could a market liven up a particularly quiet part of the city centre? Could a building, like Sunwin House, be used as an ‘alternative’ market? Food grown / Animals reared within the district could be given special market rates or the food could be sold via a co-operative shop, like the Green Valley Grocer in Slaithwaite.
Events venue: A long term aspiration for the Odeon site, but the city centre already has events venues around and the Centenary Square / City Park can be used for outdoor events.
Evening economy and Late Events: Later opening of shops, combined with events in the city centre at outdoor and indoor venues and ‘out of hours’ free / discounted car parking.
Nightlife: Some empty shops, as well as empty pubs, could have incentives to bring them back to use – the focus being on quality and distinctiveness rather cheap drinks and loud music. Some local authorities have put maximum size thresholds for venues, to maintain a relaxed drinking atmosphere. The Sparrow on North Parade is the prime example of this type of venue and there are plenty of bars in Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester which would fit in well in Bradford.
Restaurants: The dearth of chain restaurants in the city centre may change when shopping is improved and with more events venues, but there is scope for a city centre presence for city’s well known restaurants such as Akbars and Zouk.
Architecture: The city has amazing architecture and should be celebrated more. An empty shop unit could take on a temporary use as an architecture exhibition, guided walks could be taken around – perhaps in an Architecture Week or on a national Heritage Open Day.
Living: There is some living in the city centre already, many buildings in the ‘Goitside’ area are unoccupied, as are many floors above the shops. Given the housing waiting list figures, the general shortage of housing in the city – there is scope for the city centre to provide more housing in the long term and for facilities such as health centres to have a presence in the city centre.
Public realm and the Park: The park and public realm works in the city centre have helped to give a good setting to events and shopping in the city centre, now we just need the events and the shopping!
Policing / CCTV: It goes without saying, but upgrades of CCTV and more extensive monitoring, as well as a more visible police presence can help reduce crime / the fear of crime and make the city centre more welcoming.
Entrepreneurs: This is something that should be actively encouraged, the volume of empty retail space and building space is something that should be used to support business start ups. New Start Ups in Rotherham are given assistance to pay rent from the Local Authority.
Providing Grade A Office Space: This is something that is likely to arise from new developments, the provision of high quality space and high quality jobs will see more people with more spending power in the city centre.
Development of Westfield and a new life for Kirkgate: The Westfield development, when / if it goes ahead will undoubtedly breath new life into the city centre with new retailers, but it is crucial that the Kirkgate Centre and the current prime retail area is supported in this change and that the Westfield / Kirkgate are able to compliment each other.
Carving out a niche: Easier said than done, but Bradford could have a great niche to make it somewhere worth visiting / worth spending money in.
South Asian businesses / World Mile: The World Mile from White Abbey Road down to Westgate features many South Asian and Eastern European businesses and Bombay Stores, a mile from the centre, is the UK’s largest Asian department store, giving such businesses more of a preference in the city centre can help to attract visitors.
Better links to the college / university: These are so close to the city centre, but at times the University feels remote and Bradford does not feel like a University city like so many others. The physical links, the type of businesses and there being an education presence in the very heart of town could change this.
Parking regime: Different ways of paying for parking, such as paying on exit could be more attractive than current parking, cheaper shopping parking v more expensive commuter parking, free parking to support late night shopping events. If so many people say they don’t go into Bradford because of parking issues, there is a chance to get some of these people back.