Delivering transformative area wide regeneration in Bradford

20.03.24 4 min read by Simon Dew

The question of how to successfully deliver area wide regeneration at scale is something that organisations in both the public and private sectors have been trying to answer.

We know change is vital to future proof our cities and towns for the next generation and ensure they continue to be vibrant places where people want to live, work and spend their leisure time. Yet, to drive this change at scale requires a long-term approach and a collective effort from multiple stakeholders to invest not only in physical structures, but in the essential infrastructure and public realm that transforms disparate developments into a true place.

Placemaking and meaningful regeneration is no simple task. However, up and down the country, there are examples of how successful area wide generation can be delivered when the right pieces fall into place.

One of these cities is Bradford, which is embarking on an exciting journey to reimagine its city centre for the needs of a new generation. Like many post-industrial cities, Bradford has sometimes suffered from historical underinvestment. However, upcoming improvements to infrastructure, including rail, a raft of exciting regeneration projects and a 2025 UK City of Culture status, are creating a buzz both in the city and beyond.

At Muse, we are proud to be working alongside our partners to be driving many of these exciting regeneration projects.

This includes our One City Park development, which completed at the end of 2023 and was designed to create much needed, grade A office space in the city centre. Bradford has one of the youngest populations in the UK, making it an attractive proposition for businesses ready to take advantage of its workforce potential, but in the past it has lacked the high spec office space to accommodate them. One City Park was designed to deliver new, high quality and flexible office space, and is already attracting new occupiers and demonstrating that this vibrant city is well and truly open for business. PwC is one of these businesses, with the firm set to move into the building in summer 2024 and aiming to create 500 new jobs over the next few years.

Attracting new businesses, however, is just one piece of the puzzle. The next challenge is transforming the city centre into a place where people can seamlessly live and enjoy their time outside of work.

That’s why we are working as part of the ECF – a joint venture between Muse, Legal & General and Homes England – alongside Bradford City Council, to deliver a bold new vision for a sustainable new neighbourhood in the heart of the city centre.

City Village will see the creation of up to 1,000 new homes, but also the opportunity for revitalised independent retail, cafes, bars and new business spaces through the redevelopment of the former Kirkgate and Oastler Markets area. However, the scheme goes beyond bricks and mortar to deliver additional value to the city, with high-quality public realm and traffic calmed streets that have been designed to more effectively connect the ‘top of town’ of the city centre with the retail core around Market Street. All of this will work together to create a more vibrant place and offer the kind of city centre living that is already available in many other locations.

Key to the success of City Village will be a close relationship between Homes England and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. City Village is one of a number of sites in the wider region that will be delivered through a Strategic Place Partnership between these two organisations and will aim to unlock ambitious regeneration schemes that are complex to deliver.

Elsewhere, key leisure projects such as Darley Street Markets, a new vibrant centre for the city’s best market produce and independent food & drink and Bradford Live, a 3,800 capacity music venue in the home of former Odeon cinema, are also well underway, boosting the night-time economy and offering new opportunities for a growing city centre population to enjoy their free time. Vital transport projects such as the Southern Gateway project which will see the redevelopment of Bradford Interchange and improvements to Bradford Forster Square railway station, meanwhile, are ensuring the city will be better connected, significantly reducing east-west journey times, enabling people to more easily commute to and from the city.

All these pieces coming together mean that Bradford is on the brink of becoming somewhere rather extraordinary.

Key to this has been a long-term vision. Delivering change on this scale to boost the city centre residential population, attract new employers and create a thriving visitor destination does not happen overnight, so requires development partners who understand the importance of long-term stewardship. For Muse, it’s our commitment to the long term that means we will be there every step of the way to see out City Village over the next 10 years and ensure it meets the needs of the community, both now and in the future.

Equally as important, is having a collaborative and partnership approach to regeneration that ensures that every stakeholder is bought in to a shared vision for the city. This has meant that in Bradford, transport projects, new homes and leisure schemes, and place changing public realm are being delivered in tandem to not only drive change but also perceptions of the city, which will act as a catalyst for further investment.

There is still some way to go before this city of opportunity realises its full potential. However, with partnership working, a long-term vision and a commitment to placemaking all coming together, the result in Bradford will be a blueprint of how area wide regeneration can be delivered successfully and at scale.

 

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