The new Darley Street Market is another piece of Bradford’s jigsaw

Darley Street Market artist's impression

By Dave Baldwin

The people have spoken. They have chosen a name for the biggest project to date in the ongoing regeneration of Bradford city centre. The £21m market development will be called Darley Street Market. The simple but effective title was chosen by nearly half of respondents in a public survey launched late last year.

What’s in a name? First, it clearly signals the location for visitors to the city. And second, it draws on the heritage of Bradford’s historic high street, the location of markets for more than a century. The combination of location, heritage and investment are essential for any successful regeneration.

Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw, portfolio holder for regeneration, planning and transport at Bradford Council, said: “The markets have a special place for so many Bradford residents and therefore it was very important for us to consult with as many people across the Bradford district.

“We want residents to be involved in the new market project and what better way than to decide on the name for the new market. Darley Street Market was the overwhelming favourite as people made clear they wanted a name that was direct, celebrated the heritage of the street and gave a clear indication as to its location.

“We are fully committed to delivering the extensive reconstruction of the markets offer in the city centre and this is another step in creating a space that not only offers an innovative shopping experience, but also a place that the local community feels belongs to them.”

The project will burst into life this spring. The destruction of several vacant stores will make space for the creation of a beautiful new multi-storey market building. Large windows will bathe the interiors with natural light, multiple entrances will welcome shoppers and a public square will connect Piccadilly and Darley Street and provide a place for open air events and outdoor stalls. Filled with food, fashion and other fare from every corner of the world, it will be irresistible.

The council has appointed Kier as its preferred bidder for the development. Phil McDowell, operations director at Kier Regional Building Northern, said: “This vital regeneration project is the largest to be undertaken in Bradford and will provide a dynamic, vibrant and diverse shopping location for visitors. We’re thrilled to be appointed as preferred bidder to work with Bradford Council and are committed to delivering a project that benefits the community.”

Darley Street Market will be split across three floors, each with their own special identity and environment. The lower ground floor will focus on dry foods within a vaulted structure intended to be warm and intimate. The upper ground floor will house the main fresh food stalls. The first floor will host a world food court with communal seating areas.

It’s going to be great. I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes the byword for market developments in Britain in the same way the award-winning City Park has established itself as one of the best examples of reimagined public spaces in the 21st century.

The entire city centre will be transformed this decade as developers commit to the district. In the One City Park project, Muse will create a state-of-the-art and environmentally excellent building with 56,403 sq ft of Grade A space. At Forster Square, Morgan Sindall will carry out a £17m redevelopment of the railway station with improved facilities, public spaces and better access to city centre for the benefit of commuters, shoppers and visitors. In the area around the Top of Town, a city village of 1,000 new homes and spaces for business is planned.

All this adds up to something significant. This is what happens when you get everyone’s noses pointing in the same direction. Investment, jobs and growth will follow. The people are getting behind it, as demonstrated by the 1,200 individual responses to the survey on public markets. This is a renewal of pride and ambition.

The Sunday Times hails Bradford as one of the best places to do business

Bradford city skyline

Bradford has been named by The Sunday Times as one of the 20 best places for doing business in the UK.

The city came in 15th on the paper’s ‘Best places for business 2020’ guide, beating Newcastle, Glasgow, Sheffield, Belfast and Nottingham.

Judges hailed Bradford’s £10.1bn economy and young population, and mentioned that start-up founders are attracted by low commercial rents, good transport infrastructure and fast broadband.

The Sunday Times stated that ‘Recent years have seen regeneration sweep through Bradford’ and that ‘A range of redevelopment projects are part of a programme to add an extra £4bn to the economy by 2030’.

Bradford Council’s Chief Executive, Kersten England was noted as a key ‘Influencer’ and the authority’s financial support schemes for small businesses were highlighted.

Last year Bradford was named the most improved city in the UK to live and work by PwC, and in 2018 the city was hailed the best city in the UK to start a business by analysts from Barclays bank.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “We are very pleased to see that once again Bradford is being tipped as a great place to do business.

“Our growth schemes have been very successful in helping businesses create hundreds of new jobs and our broader economic strategy has been designed to create the right environment for businesses to flourish.”

Bradford Means Business

Bradford Means Business magazine cover January 2020

Dave Baldwin writes the ‘Just one more thing’ column for the January issue of Bradford Means Business magazine.

I can’t think of a better name for a magazine and website. From our industrial heritage at the heart of the global wool trade to our new title as Britain’s most improved city, Bradford Means Business in so many ways. This year and next, we will be aiming to add another designation to our district: UK City of Culture.

The successes we have enjoyed in recent months and years show what can be achieved when everyone’s noses are pointing in the same direction. It’s an approach we strongly believe in at the Bradford Economic Partnership. We have a clear vision to grow the economy, increase the number of jobs and improve the skills of our people. With our mantra of minimum requirement, maximum effort, we are making great progress.

Don’t just take my word for it. A record-breaking reduction in unemployment and strong growth in skills saw Bradford crowned top improver in the highly regarded Good Growth for Cities report from influential think tank Demos and Big Four accountancy firm PwC. The annual study singled out Bradford for the largest improvement in the jobs score of any UK city between 2015 and 2018 with unemployment falling from 10 per cent to 4.1 per cent. It also revealed how more than 43 per cent of adults held at least an NVQ level 3 qualification in 2018, compared to 39 per cent in 2015.

As regular readers of Bradford Means Business will know, we have a dynamic business community populated with a rich variety of commercially successful and innovative companies from start-ups and kitchen table enterprises to scale-ups and market leaders. Entrepreneurs feel at home here. Global banking giant Barclays named Bradford as the best place in Britain to start a business, according to 12 key growth factors such as business rate relief, infrastructure, broadband speed and labour productivity.

Word is spreading and notable names are signing up for our success story. PwC chose Bradford for its new national assurance centre, creating 225 new professional jobs in the city centre. NEC Group, the UK’s leading live events business, has taken over the Odeon to create a 4,000-capacity venue, Bradford Live. Muse Developments, the urban renewal specialist, will bring forward a major new Grade A office building at City Park to support Bradford Council’s wider regeneration of the city centre.

It’s not just an economic story. Bradford is filled with creative talent. Home-grown arts organisations including England’s largest learning disability theatre company, Mind the Gap, Bradford Literature Festival, female-led theatre collective Common Wealth, intercultural arts hub Kala Sangam, Bradford Community Broadcasting, Freedom Studios and an exciting new generation of cultural voices are successfully engaging new audiences. Not to mention Channel 4 citing Bradford’s young, diverse and digitally-savvy communities in its decision to move its national HQ to West Yorkshire. Hence our bid to host UK City of Culture in 2025.

Bradford still faces many difficult challenges. We need Government to invest in key infrastructure such as Northern Powerhouse Rail with a Bradford Central station. But with a clear vision – to grow the economy, create new jobs and improve skills in our district – and everyone’s noses pointing in the same direction, we can give more young people the chance to succeed in life, whatever their background. I invite business leaders to get involved in whatever way they can to help us achieve our vision, whether that’s investing in their companies, taking time to support initiatives like Bradford Manufacturing Weeks or spreading the word about the good things happening here in our district. That will help show everyone that Bradford Means Business.

The impact of Bradford as a film and TV location

Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren on the set of The Duke, filmed in Bradford

By Dave Baldwin

City Hall played host to the A-list actors Helen Mirren and Jim Broadbent as the latest major film production rolled into the district. Dame Helen has clearly been enjoying her stay, telling her many social media followers about Mumtaz curry house, Snow White at the Alhambra Theatre and an 80s night out, commenting about “the one and only Bradford with its own magic”.

The Academy Award-winning stars are appearing in The Duke, directed by Roger Michell of Notting Hill fame, which tells the story of Kempton Bunton, a taxi driver who was convicted of stealing Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London in 1961. Bunton claimed he wanted to raise £140,000 to help pay for TV licences for old-age pensioners in his home city of Newcastle.

David Wilson, director of Bradford UNESCO City of Film, told the local newspaper: “It was a real pleasure to host the first scenes of this film in Bradford. We have worked closely with the production for the past few months to prepare some excellent Bradford locations.

“In addition to the excitement of having such great talent in the city there is also the economic impact in terms of hotel stays for crew and local spend at cafes. We have also managed to get some great opportunities for students from the University of Bradford and Bradford College to support the production.”

Experience like this will be invaluable for the lucky students. It means they don’t have to pack their bags and travel to London or Hollywood to get a taste of what it is like to work on a major film production. The industry opportunity is on the doorstep here in Bradford.

The region saw almost non-stop production again last year, with the Bradford Film Office playing a vital supporting role in providing locations, production office space, hotel accommodation, local crew and extras. Peaky Blinders, Gentleman Jack, Victoria, Pennyworth, Ackley Bridge, the Downton Abbey movie, and Official Secrets were all shot in or around Bradford and the wider region.

Clio Barnard, the director of award-winning Bradford-based films The Arbor and The Selfish Giant, has returned to the district to make her latest feature, Ali & Ava, with filming in BD3. AA Dhand, the acclaimed Bradford-based crime writer, is making his first film, No Ordinary Life, which is set to premiere at the Bradford Literature Festival.

All this work provides a direct boost through multiple employment opportunities in front of and behind the camera. The longer term impact comes from promotion of our district as a tourist destination, both urban and rural. The City of Film offers location tours for film fans from across the world. The Bradford Movie Trail takes in scenes from classics such as Billy Liar, The Railway Children, Rita, Sue and Bob Too and Monty Python’s Meaning of Life as well as many more recent favourites.

Success breeds success. As in other areas of our economy, momentum is building in our domestic film industry. Mr Wilson said: “It is very clear to me that the Bradford district is held in very high regard and with a lot of affection by production managers, producers and directors who are making repeat visits but also recommending Bradford to other productions.”

We are living in a content revolution. Tech and media giants are pumping billions of dollars into original material in the global battle for attention. Netflix is spending $15bn a year on new content. Apple is committing $6bn to catch up. Disney is joining the fray with its new streaming brand. Not to mention BBC, ITV and Channel 4, which I understand is already operating in Leeds ahead of its head office move. It is estimated that more money will be spent on new content this year alone than during the entire 90s.

With our incredible architectural heritage and awe-inspiring natural landscapes, it is highly likely the flow of investment to Bradford will increase in coming years. Little Germany could easily pass for Gotham. The Dales for the Shire. Not only do we have the stunning locations, we also have the creative writing, acting and directing talent that is now bursting its way to the fore. Our film industry will form an important part of our bid to host UK City of Culture in 2025. And that would be the best starring role in a generation.

Royal visit is stamp of approval for Bradford

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge outside Bradford City Hall

By Dave Baldwin

As royal visits go, this was near perfect. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, in their first official engagement of the year, came to Bradford and saw at first hand some fine examples of the work taking place across our district to support and promote community cohesion.

Cheered on by enthusiastic crowds, William and Kate visibly enjoyed themselves as they met entrepreneurs, apprentices, charity workers, faith leaders and volunteers dedicated to improving quality of life in one of Britain’s most diverse cities.

“The diversity of Bradford has always been very intriguing,” Prince William is reported to have said. “I think what you are all doing to help each other and bring the community together is very powerful. You can see that communities are trying to come together, trying to help each other, get to know each other and that is really crucial.”

In this respect, Bradford leads Britain. After some difficult decades, the city is bouncing back and last year won the ‘Most Improved’ title in an influential report on social and economic growth. The prince added: “If we can replicate that more across the country then it can only be for good – bringing everybody together, which is the reason why we want to get round the UK now and see as many places in the UK we may not have been very much to, and try to understand some of the more complex challenges.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet young people at Bradford City Hall

The visit began at City Hall where the royal couple met with young people who had been noted for their work in the city. Their discussion covered mental health, drug dealing, video games, apprenticeships and women in engineering. Bradford Council chief executive Kersten England CBE said: “What struck me most was the immediate and easy rapport between the Duke and Duchess and the young people. Their Royal Highnesses were clearly impressed by the talent, passion and ambition in the room. The discussion was thoughtful and engaged, it didn’t shirk difficult topics but was upbeat and optimistic.”

Afterwards, they met business and civic leaders including myself, representatives from Bradford Chamber of Commerce and Adeeba Malik CBE, the deputy chief executive of Bradford-based charity QED. She told the prince: “Your trip to Pakistan, please don’t underestimate the importance of it. It was phenomenal. It was so powerful.” The Duke and Duchess visited Pakistan in October to celebrate the nation’s historic ties with Britain. The five-day tour was the first royal visit to the country since 2006. “We loved it,” said William.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at My Lahore in Bradford

The next stop was My Lahore restaurant, named after the food capital of Pakistan, where the prince and princess met students from Bradford College taking part in an apprenticeship scheme and made mango and kulfi milkshakes in the kitchen. They spoke with boxer Amir Khan, a friend of the restaurant owners, about his boxing foundation and mental health in sport.

The royal couple also visited the Khidmat Centre, where they joined a Better Start Bradford workshop, which uses music and play to support children’s social, emotional and physical development while supporting adult self esteem. Bradford baker Siama Ali presented the Duke and Duchess with a beautifully designed cake, adorned with royal portraits and Union Jack flags.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the Khidmat Centre in Bradford

The final visit was to a workshop run by Near Neighbours, an organisation that brings together people in diverse communities to create relationships of trust and to help people transform their neighbourhoods. It summed up the theme of the visit. The Bishop of Bradford, Toby Howarth, praised the Royal Family for “championing Christian-Muslim relationships well before it became fashionable”. He added: “The Royal Family have made it very clear all the way along that Britain is a nation for everyone, every religion, every culture. Her Majesty has done that, Prince Charles has done that and now we can see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will do that.”

A parting message came via social media from the official Kensington Palace account to an audience of 1.9m. It said simply, “Thank you Bradford!” and featured a video montage of their visit, which I think they enjoyed as much as we all did. Bradford succeeded in showing one of the most famous couples in the world a perfect example of a vibrant, confident and diverse modern place. We can consider this a royal stamp of approval for Britain’s most improved city.

Why people and businesses are choosing Bradford

One City Park artist's impression

By Dave Baldwin

People vote with their feet. In Bradford, we are seeing more people eating and drinking in the city centre after work. This spike in footfall – called “alive after five” – is all down to the office sector, according to BID manager Jonny Noble. “More Grade A offices are a no-brainer,” he said.

They are on their way. Muse Developments, the urban renewal specialist, has been chosen by Bradford Council to deliver a major new office building at City Park as part of the local authority’s wider regeneration of the city centre. The One City Park project will create a state-of-the-art and environmentally excellent building with 56,403 sq ft of Grade A space in the city centre.

David Wells, regional director at Muse Developments, said: “This development will form an important part of the council’s city centre masterplan and we will be delivering a best-in-class destination that attracts new occupiers to Bradford and reinforces the city centre as a fantastic location for business.”

It’s going to be a busy decade for Bradford. The £21m market project will provide the city centre with modern market facilities and help meet the challenge of the changing high street. A city village of 1,000 new homes and spaces for business is planned for the area in and around the Top of the Town. Forster Square train station is set to undergo a major redevelopment. All will improve the amenity of Bradford and encourage more people to work and live in the city centre.

Businesses are starting to look at Bradford in a different way. PwC chose Bradford city centre for its new UK assurance centre in a significant vote of confidence in the district and its talent pool. The global accountancy giant is creating up to 225 new white collar jobs at 5 Godwin Street, another Grade A office development. No doubt those new recruits will be contributing to that spike in footfall after work.

They have plenty of choice for places to go. The £260m Broadway Shopping Centre has established itself as one of the UK’s most successful retail and leisure destinations and is winning national recognition for its performance in areas like footfall, customer spend, dwell time and community engagement, campaigns such as Sparkling Bradford and its ability to attract new tenants. For those who like something a little different, the historic tunnels of Sunbridge Wells and its subterranean bars and venues are certainly “alive after five”.

Our city centre workers have spending power. Bradford saw the biggest growth in advertised salaries of any major city in the UK, according to research published last month by the job search engine adzuna.co.uk. Bradford salaries rose by 3.6 per cent last year, compared to declines in places like London, Manchester and Leeds. Adzuna said Bradford is “bucking the trend and showing strong growth”.

Employment is bouncing back after some tough years. Bradford enjoyed the largest improvement in the jobs score of any city in the UK between 2015 and 2018 with unemployment falling from 10 per cent to 4.1 per cent over the period, according to the Demos-PwC report on Good Growth. It also showed how more than 43 per cent of adults held at least an NVQ level 3 qualification in 2018, compared to 39 per cent in 2015. As a result, the report crowned Bradford as Britain’s most improved city.

Property investment is all about timing. Congratulations to Muse on being selected to bring forward the One City Park project. The timing could not be better. The developer and the council say they will work together throughout 2020 to formalise the proposed partnership, develop the design of the building and work on a planning application. Subject to planning, work will begin on site in 2021 with expected completion in 2023. Before long, the city centre will have more Grade A space to attract new investment in the district.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford Council, said: “The appointment of award-winning developers Muse to design and build One City Park is yet another firm indicator that Bradford is on the way up. Building on the success of City Park and the progress of Bradford Live, it’s a further indication that the UK’s youngest city, with its entrepreneurial spirit, is recognised by the wider business community as a place where they want to, and can, do business and that we are a council which supports them to do that.”

People do vote with their feet. So does business. And they are making their way to Bradford.

2019: a brilliant year for the Bradford District

One City Park artist's impression

By Dave Baldwin

Looking back, it’s been a brilliant year for Bradford. To prove the point, this week’s column highlights some of the success stories that emerged from our diverse district during 2019. Taken together, they demonstrate our social, economic and cultural renaissance is gathering pace.

In January, new figures from the Centre for Entrepreneurs foundation showed that 4,127 businesses were born in Bradford in 2018, the equivalent of 15 new start-ups every working day. Who knows what wonders are being dreamed up on our doorsteps?

We have the entrepreneurs; we just need to back them with investment in infrastructure. In February, Transport for the North published its strategy for the next three decades. It singled out the impact that Northern Powerhouse Rail would have on Bradford, home to half a million people and the fifth largest economy in the North, currently worth £10.5bn. It says NPR is “central to unlocking opportunity and transformational growth in Bradford”. Too right.

March marked the first anniversary of the launch of our economic growth plan. We are making strong progress in attracting new investors, starting up and scaling up businesses, building new partnerships and bringing more people into the workforce. We have seen a private sector jobs boom of 6,500 new roles; we have broken through the 20,000 barrier in the number of BME women in employment, almost double the amount since 2010; and we have seen an inflation-busting seven per cent increase in average weekly workplace earnings.

Aside, I loved the headline in The Times, “Who needs London, Paris or Monte Carlo, when you’ve got Bradford?” Okay, it was only a Giles Coren restaurant review but we’ll take the glowing national coverage as an example of the positive momentum we’re gaining as a district.

PwC, the global accountancy giant, unveiled its new national assurance centre in Bradford in May. Speaking at the launch, Judith Cummins, MP for Bradford South, said: “This is a really exciting time in Bradford and the opening of this office means new jobs, new investment and a boost to Bradford’s profile right across the city and the country. I know that PwC’s decision is a recognition of the significant commercial opportunity that Bradford offers.”

Bradford Literature Festival returned in June with a stellar line-up featuring 500 writers and 400 events across 10 days. That Habib Ali al-Jifri, an internationally-renowned Islamic scholar, and Luke Goss, one half of 80s pop band Bros and now LA-based actor, were among the hottest tickets summed up the sheer excellence of our very own world-class festival.

We all know it takes courage to stand up for what you believe in, especially when the odds are stacked against you. Lillian Armitage had plenty and more than a century after she was jailed for her part in the suffragette movement, a Bradford street was named after her in July. It’s great that our district is celebrating the contributions of women like Lillian through a new campaign called Pioneering Bradford Lasses.

England went cricket mad in the summer and homegrown heroes Jonny Bairstow and Adil Rashid became national heroes for their part in the miraculous Cricket World Cup victory. In August, I wrote about Adil’s visit to his local mosque in Bradford to meet overjoyed cricket supporters. He said: “They’re seeing someone from this area who has made something for themselves and achieved something massive. If I can be an inspiration to the youngsters – or anyone for that matter – then I have done my job.”

In September, we launched Bradford’s bid to host the UK City of Culture in 2025. Our district is undergoing substantial regeneration. Business and civic leaders are working together for the greater good. Bradford is brimming with new talent. We have the infrastructure to stage an ambitious programme of international events. People are seeing us in a different way. Being host city would be brilliant for Bradford.

Strong cities need strong institutions and when a leading example is singled out for its excellence, it strengthens the standing of the city overall. Step forward University of Bradford, named by The Sunday Times in October as the UK’s University of the Year for Social Inclusion 2020. It’s a perfect illustration of the transformational work taking place across our district.

Bradford Manufacturing Weeks was a soaraway success. Delivered by Bradford Chamber of Commerce, this year’s initiative created an estimated 5,000 work experiences with 65 manufacturers involved, double the number of 2018’s inaugural programme. As well as helping boost apprenticeship numbers, the scheme gives young people a glimpse of the inspiring, innovative and rewarding enterprises creating wealth and prosperity across our district.

In November, Bradford was crowned Britain’s Most Improved City in an influential annual report on economic wellbeing following a record reduction in unemployment and significant growth in skills. The nationwide study, Good Growth for Cities 2019 by think tank Demos, measured the performance of 42 of the UK’s largest cities against a range of 10 priorities including jobs, health, income, skills, work-life balance, housing affordability, travel-to-work times, income equality, environment and business start-ups. 

As I write, Bradford Council has announced Muse as its development partner for One City Park, a new state-of-the-art office building at the city centre’s award-winning City Park and the next step in the ongoing growth and regeneration of the entire district. All in all, I am delighted but not surprised at Bradford’s successes over the last year. It shows what can happen when you get everyone’s noses pointing in the same direction. See you in 2020.