By Dave Baldwin
Back in the days when money was no object, our Victorian forebears built a city that befitted its status as the world capital of the wool trade. Walk around Bradford today and everywhere you look there are abundant reminders of this proud and illustrious past. We have a wealth of heritage buildings. Architectural commentators call it “good bone structure”. This is a handsome legacy and it offers enormous potential for growth in the future.
Bradford has one of the most inspiring built environments in Britain. We have seized this opportunity and our distinctive offer is one of four central themes in our 2018-2030 economic growth strategy. We are using these unique assets to create compelling investment propositions and an environment for growth. To this end, Bradford Council wants to increase the supply of land for business use and is calling on agents, landowners and developers to put forward sites that might be suitable for future employment.
There are deals to be done. The council has identified the need to create 60 hectares of land suitable for business use to help fulfil our growth strategy. This would include offices, research and development facilities and general industrial use such as manufacturing and production. Our businesses need room to grow. Research shows there is particularly strong demand for good quality employment space in four hotspots across the district: east and north Keighley, Wharfedale and north, north east and south east Bradford.
The time is coming for Bradford and our diverse, modern and sustainable economy. Two decades into the 21st century, we have a young and growing labour force. SMEs are the lifeblood of our economy, the third largest in Yorkshire. We are also the location for a number of big players with well-known brands operating on a global scale. Bradford is home to many successful creative, cultural and tourism-based enterprises. The call for employment sites will strengthen this promising position.
Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s executive member for regeneration, planning and transport, said: “This is a vital piece of work for us, so that we can identify land for future economic growth and ensure we can deliver the 1,600 jobs per annum the district needs. We’re keen to work with landowners and developers to map out potential sites and be clear about where development could take place in future.”
Marianne McCallum, chair of Bradford Chamber of Commerce Property Forum, said: “It’s clear that, in order for Bradford’s business community to fulfil its potential and play a full part in our economic growth, that more good quality sites are needed. We urge agents, landowners and any others who can play a part, to come forward with potential land sites that can be considered for future development. Bradford is on an upward trajectory and landowners can support that by making sites available now.”
Too right Bradford is on its way up. Transactions will follow as investors wake up to this fact. Interested parties must submit sites for consideration by September 24 when consultation closes on the next stage of the council’s core strategy. All sites put forward will be assessed for suitability, availability and deliverability and the usual planning rules and permissions will apply.
Bradford is no longer the world capital of the wool trade. But the investments in infrastructure made by our forebears stand us in good stead today. We have an abundance of buildings of architectural and historical interest. Many date back to the time of the Industrial Revolution when Bradford was a global pioneer. Regenerated, revitalised and reinvigorated for the coming generations of business and civic entrepreneurs, they will set the stage for our future success.
* Dave Baldwin is chairman of Bradford Economic Partnership and chief executive of Burnley Football Club