Saturday, 25 February 2012

The Future: The Renaissance of Bradford

Bradford has had mixed fortunes in its long history.  Only forty years ago, the city was being written off as 'finished', received much disparaging media coverage and the landscape was blotted by abandoned buildings and failed building schemes.  Just as the city's textile trade created great prosperity 200 years ago, the last four decades have inspired other cities to show that there is a life after the traditional industry has moved away.  This is how the city came back from the brink:

2013: Market Street in Bradford, an area which had a large number of vacant shops and pubs, becomes a new centre for independent shops and café bars, thanks to a partnership between the council and land owners.  The now famous Market Street Gallery opened.
2014: Confidence in the city is growing, events at City Park are attracting people and Westfield is about to open.  Market Street has been transformed and now Rawson Street is getting the same treatment, with many more independent shops opening.
2015: The Westfield shopping mall opens at Broadway.
2016: The former Odeon cinema is redeveloped and opens as a new concert hall.
2017: The Goitside Area is seeing major residential lead development, artists studios and alternative clubs have occupied some of the disused mill buildings.
2018: The 'Business Forest' adjacent to City Park opens up, with many business relocating parts of their operations to Bradford.
2020: The University expands, as admissions have increased in previous years, reflecting the city's new found popularity.
2022: The city is now better connected than ever, it is one of the first in the UK to get a new generation free wi-fi network and the newly electrified railway to Manchester and Leeds delivers much faster travel times.
2023: Bradford's schools have soared up the national league tables thanks to the unparalleled investment they have received in the last decade.
2024: An amazing year for sport in the city as Bradford Bulls win the Super League Grand Final for the first time in 19 years,  and Bradford City return to the Premier League after two decades.  The City Park is the scene of many sporting celebrations.
2026: More business success for the city, as a top national company relocates in national headquarters to Bradford city centre.
2028: Bradford is now connected to the West Yorkshire Tram network.
2030: The new Bradford Ice Arena opens close to Forster Square, as the canal extension nears completion.
2032: The Bradford Canal Spur is reopened, after waiting many years, the canal basis is a hive of development activity.
2035: Bradford Crossrail is completed, with the new central station providing a link to the HS2 line.  The West Yorkshire tram network continues to connect different parts of the centre, public transport investment has been significant to help manage the decline of the private car as fuel costs have become unsustainable.
2037: Forster Square Retail Park is demolished and is transformed into a lush canalside linear park, supporting the increased resident population of this part of the city.
2040: The Tate Modern North gallery opens up at the Forster Square canal basin, attracting millions of visitors every year and helping Bradford become a tourism hub.
2042: Bradford is named the European Capital of Culture, with events held across the city's concert hall, arena and galleries.
2045: The central area of the city now has more people living there than at any other time, as people have moved closer to centres of work and leisure, and as the city's economy has developed.  The economic productivity gap between the cities of Northern England and London keeps closing as infrastructure has improved beyond recognition in the North.
2048: A new 38,000 capacity central stadium opens to the south of the city centre, the highlight of the year there being England defeating Australia in the quarter final of the Rugby League World Cup, which England went on to win.
2052: The City of Bradford's population has nearly doubled to 600,000, alongside the city of Leeds with over 1 million people, as the UK's population nears 75 million, with successful cities like those of West Yorkshire accommodating this change.


  1. Me in 2052: I've just retired and I've bagged myself a great place to live overlooking the canal and Tate, down at Lower Manningham - can't beat a Gin and Tonic on the balcony.

  2. Great vision but you missed something out. 2014 The new Bradford College building opens on the site of the old Westbrook building. The mix of new architecture and historic estate provided by the Lister Building (home of the Bradford School of Arts and Media) and the Old Building (home of the City's second Studio School - this one for the Creative Industries) creates a new learning zone linking the College and University campuses. Responding to higher fees, more local people choose to remain in Bradford to study. The better curriculum offer of both BC and UOB sees applications double in three years. Local schools benefit from links with FE/HE providers and, as a result, school leavers are better equipped and more confident. This spreads into the world of work, culture and the City's regeneration is driven by passionate local people. This helps to drive the increase in applicants to UOB and BC which are seen as leaders in responsive and flexible teaching and learning. 2020 etc...

    1. All that positivity above and I still missed something out, that's good!