Former Bradford Council building transformed into new manufacturing site in £2.45m scheme

Former Bradford Council building transformed into new manufacturing site in £2.45m scheme

A SPECIALIST industrial automation company has completed a £2.45m transformation project to create a new manufacturing site marking a major milestone in its five-year growth plan.

The investment, which included £440,000 from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership’s grant programme, has seen Univer Manufacturing Company Ltd, part of the British-owned, TecnAir Group, completely overhaul a disused former Bradford Council building in Shipley into a state-of-art manufacturing facility.

The 24,000 sq ft site houses the latest CNC machine technology and has increased the company’s manufacturing capabilities, enabling it to create 20 new jobs, and win a string of new export contracts.

Univer Manufacturing is a family-run company specialising in standard pneumatic branded products, specialist pneumatic products, gas module production, vehicle fleet safety products and systems for armoured vehicles. Established in 1988, it has grown to become the largest independently owned specialist pneumatic manufacturing business in the UK, with production facilities in Europe and other parts of the world, including Australia and China.

Managing director, Dominic Pix, expects export sales to grow by 30 per cent and current UK sales are already up 40 per cent.

Mr Pix said: “The grant meant that our latest facility has been completed to an exceptional standard. By choosing to give new life to a former Bradford Council building that had been empty for a long period, rather than purchase a new build, Univer Manufacturing has also invested additional funds into the purchasing of the latest CNC automated technology.

The LEP, in partnership with West Yorkshire Combined Authority, received funding through Leeds City Region Growth Deal – a £1bn package of Government investment to accelerate growth. Univer Manufacturing has now had a second grant approved for the purchase of another disused Council building, adjacent to the Shipley site, which should complete in 2019.

Andrew Wright, Chair of the LEP Business, Innovation and Growth (BIG) Panel, said: “Univer Manufacturing is a prime example of a successful British business, which is demonstrating commitment to its Yorkshire roots through investment.”

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford Council, added: “By supporting growing businesses we are able to build on the region’s manufacturing excellence and create a strong and successful economy that benefits everyone.”

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Blackpool, Bradford and Lake District to benefit from £15 million Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund

Blackpool, Bradford and Lake District to benefit from £15 million Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund

Three major cultural projects across the North of England will receive a share of the £15 million Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund, Arts, Heritage and Tourism Minister Michael Ellis announced today.

The fund, which was created to build a lasting regional legacy from the Great Exhibition of the North, will support diverse projects in Blackpool, Bradford and the Lake District.

A total of £4 million will help transform the vacant former Bradford Odeon cinema into a 4,000 capacity live music, entertainment and events venue.

Nearly £3.3 million will enhance the visitor experience at cultural attractions across the Lake District, the UK’s newest World Heritage Site.

A further £4 million will be used to create a museum in Blackpool that will celebrate the town’s history as the UK’s first mass seaside holiday resort.

Michael Ellis, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, said:

“These exciting projects will provide a true cultural legacy for people across the North that increases tourism, boosts local economies and creates jobs for the future. They reflect the diversity and unique identity of Blackpool, Bradford and the Lake District and will enable them to realise their exciting cultural ambitions.”

Exchequer Secretary Robert Jenrick said:

“The UK has the most vibrant cultural scene and creative industry in the world today, but we want to ensure that reaches all parts of the country and that every young person has access to cultural experiences and opportunities. That’s why we are investing these resources to ensure there is a lasting legacy for the upcoming Great Exhibition of the North, driving the region’s economic and cultural success.”

Northern Powerhouse Minister, Jake Berry, said:

“These multi-million pound cultural investments in Blackpool, Bradford and the Lake District represent a major economic and cultural boost for the Northern Powerhouse. From converting a vacant cinema into a state-of-the-art venue to improving access to the UK’s newest World Heritage site, these investments will have a transformative effect, benefitting local communities by creating new jobs while increasing tourism from across the UK and further afield.”

Eleven towns and cities from across the North of England bid for a share of the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund, which encourages sustainable cultural and creative regeneration in the Northern Powerhouse and will benefit areas with historically low levels of cultural and creative investment.

As well as the three capital projects, a new fund providing access to finance for the cultural sector and creative industries in the North of England will be created.

Bradford Odeon – The 1930s twin domed cinema has been vacant since 2000. The redevelopment will be one of the biggest of its type in the country outside of London and will bring Bradford back on the national touring circuit. The venue, due to be run by NEC Group International, will aim to put on around 225 events to more than 270,000 people every year, creating 50 jobs in the city. The project is being led by a not-for-profit social enterprise, Bradford Live, assisted by Bradford Council.  

Blackpool museum – Due to open in 2020, the museum will display artefacts, music and performances from within Blackpool and partners including the V&A, EMI Group Archive Trust and the British Music Hall Society. The museum – the biggest new museum development in the North West – is expected to attract almost 300,000 visitors a year and will be developed on the world-famous Golden Mile. It will aim to engage younger audiences in the history of Blackpool and further strengthen the town’s tourism offer.

Lake District – £3.29 million will be invested in a project to strengthen the visitor experience at Windermere Jetty, Dove Cottage, the Wordsworth Museum and Abbot Hall Art Gallery and Museum. The money will be used to enhance the visitor experience at these attractions, increase accessibility and improve exhibition spaces. The regeneration project aims to attract nearly 150,000 additional visitors, create or maintain 150 permanent jobs and boost cultural tourism to the newly designated World Heritage Site.

The projects will build on the impact of the Great Exhibition of the North, which launches in Newcastle-Gateshead on June 22. The event is set to be the biggest in England this year and will showcase the best of Northern art, culture and innovation.

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Next Stop Bradford: A Sign of City’s Bright Future

Next Stop Bradford: A Sign of City’s Bright Future

‘Welcome to the Future’ sang a headline of the local paper in Bradford upon the announcement of a raft of regeneration measures for the city.

 The year was 2004 and heady plans were afoot for Bradford, with schemes as grandiose as a “business forest” and an ambitious scheme to create a so-called urban village in the Bradford canal basin with offices, flats and high rise towers.

City Park, Bradford. 29 October 2015. Picture Bruce Rollinson

The long-awaited shopping centre on Broadway was finally built after years of no activity and the smart City Park eventually did open but predictably most of these projects never got off the drawing board.

The financial crisis and resultant colossal downturn in capital projects put paid to most of the plans but much of the fault ultimately laid with the local leadership of the time who outsourced the bulk of the work to a private firm, Bradford Centre Regeneration, who delivered next to nothing during its short tenure and oversaw the spending of millions of pounds of public money on consultants for projects which never got anywhere.

The picture today for the city, the place I started my career and somewhere I hold close to my heart, is thankfully far different.

A case in point is the plan for a Bradford station on the Northern Powerhouse Rail route between Leeds and Manchester.

Kersten England.

The proposal, which involves the complete revamp of the tired Bradford Interchange station, could be an absolute game changer, not just for Bradford but for the north’s economy at large.

Last week we published analysis by GENECON which showed that linking the city to Leeds and Manchester would do far more than just reduce journey times to seven and 20 minutes respectively.

It estimated that the station would add 15,000 new jobs to the region and bolster the North’s economy by up to £15bn by 2060. And it is not hard to see why.

 An artist impression shows the vision for how a transformed Bradford Interchange could support regeneration of the city centre

Bradford is the fifth biggest metropolitan district in the country. It is one of the youngest cities in Britain and, as Barclays announced last year, it is the best place in the nation to start a business.

For businesses large and small on both sides of Pennines, the prospect of having access to the massive untapped potential workforce that would come their way by shortening the journey time to the city is absolutely enormous. Poised between these two cities Bradford, with its amazing Victorian architecture and lower cost of living, could suddenly find itself a property hotspot.

One might ask how this plan differs from those mooted 14 years ago.

The simple answer is that Bradford has changed.

Rather than viewing itself as an independent city state it is now a vibrant and vital part of the wider Leeds city region and the plan for the high speed Bradford station is one supported across the north.

Much of the credit for this must go to its current chief executive Kersten England who has led the city with great aplomb during her time as chief executive of the council.

The way she works with her counterpart at Leeds City Council Tom Riordan has been for the betterment of the whole region. They make a good team and serve as a great model for interdependent working across region, one which the One Yorkshire plan promises to deliver across the county.

Susan Hinchcliffe too is perhaps the most impressive council leader of the council in decades and a break from the past.

Much of the change has been led by the city’s businesses and the model of cooperation across the region started with the region’s chambers of commerce when they came together to form a powerful ensemble.

If it works out it could be more than just high speed rail arriving in Bradford and now more than at any point in its modern history is it on verge of realising its tremendous potential.

Words by Marc Casci

 

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New Strategy For Bradford Launched

Made In Bradford

Representatives of West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce have helped celebrate the launch of Bradford’s new economic strategy.

A formal event saw business representatives from many sectors, plus partners such as key education institutions, hear from senior Council personnel, while a panel of business people espoused the merits of living and working in the District.

The new document was put together following a series of consultations and workshops in recent weeks and months.  The strategy identifies the city’s opportunities and challenges, but is also an aide-memoire to help attract new investment into the area.

Chamber representatives included Chief Executive Sandy Needham, Bradford President Nick Garthwaite, and Policy & Representation team members Mark Goldstone and Mike Cartwright.  Also present was Bradford Property Forum chair, Allan Booth of Rance Booth Smith Architects.

Nick Garthwaite, Bradford Chamber President, said afterwards:

“I think it’s important for a city like Bradford to have a vision, to have aspirations on how it wants to change over the next generation, but that vision needs to match the city’s own characteristics.  A lot of work went into creating the strategy, involving lots of different partners and stakeholders from within the District, and the document is probably more than the sum of its parts.  It features many of the city’s qualities, while highlighting the challenges we face as we strive to become more successful; so it’s a tool that can be used to help market Bradford, while also a guide to help deliver more growth and prosperity in the future. We’re pleased to have contributed to the discussions that have helped put the strategy together.”

Targets in the strategy include:

  • Raise GVA by £4bn
  • Get 20,000 more people into work
  • Raise the skills level of 48,000 more people to NVQ3

In a nod towards the importance of the Northern Powerhouse idea and cross-country co-operation, keynote speaker was Manchester Council Leader, Sir Richard Leese.

A PDF version is available here.

Panellists (L-R): Caroline Pullich, Barclays; Kamran Rashid, entrepreneur; Roger Marsh, LEP Chair; Amir Hussain, Yeme Architects; Lisa Leighton, Morrisons; Kersten England, Bradford Council.

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