A ROW of vacant Bradford city centre units, recently mooted as a parade of restaurants that could boost the nighttime economy, could now instead become shops.
As part of an expansion of The Broadway shopping centre, a new cinema and five ground-floor units were built on Broadway, on the site of the former HMV and Burger King.
The most recent plans for the expansion limited the ground floor units as being for restaurant or cafe use.
Despite chains like Tortilla and Gourmet Burger Kitchen showing interest in the development, the whole ground floor remains empty, over two months after The Light cinema opened.
Now Queensberry Real Estate, responsible for the development, has submitted a planning application to Bradford Council to widen the use of the ground floor units, so they can also be shops.
The company’s application says they are in negotiations with a number of potential tenants, and the change in planning classifications is “necessary to enable a wider range of uses.”
It says they are already in negotiations with an optician, and Specsavers recently submitted plans for signage in the large unit next to the entrance to The Broadway.
When The Light opened in May, Ian Ward, general manager of The Broadway, said: “One of the challenges is to drive the evening economy going forward. We’ve recently had more news about the former Odeon which means that is now going forward, and St George’s Hall will be re-opening soon, and you have Sunbridge Wells and City Park, so things are going in the right direction.”
Referring to the restaurant units, he said: “We hope these and the cinema will make the area more vibrant and make it come to life a bit more in the evenings.”
In response to the latest application, he said: “I can confirm the planning change of use refers to all units. This allows greater flexibility for any business or businesses taking up a lease of the units.”
Bradford Breakthrough is a group set up to improve the city, and in recent years has been pushing for more evening business like restaurants and bars to open in the city, boosting its post-6pm economy.
Trevor Higgins, from the group, said: “It would be great if these units were taken up by restaurants, but we have to be pragmatic.
“Shops would still bring more footfall into the city centre. I think that would be a more effective use of space than leaving these units empty. There is no point keeping empty units if we can fill them with a thriving business, and there are other spaces in the city centre.”