The news that Bradford Council have extended their planning relaxation scheme for three years, to allow retail premises around the Broadway Shopping Centre to become restaurants, offices and bars without requiring planning permission – and to allow the creation of up to nine flats on the upper floors likewise – is certainly a move in the right direction.
Bradford City Centre still has a large number of vacant buildings, mainly around Darley Street/Rawson Quarter. It is unclear whether the scheme extends to those areas which now require a major revival.
Of course, such a relaxation does not obviate the need to obtain building regulations approval, but at least reduces some of the red tape.
There is also the possibility of a Townscape Heritage grant becoming available for external renovations to empty buildings in Rawson Place, and there is still a Priority Streets scheme operated by the Council that gives rates rebates linked to job creation.
Like most traditional retail centres, Bradford is having to cope with long-term structural changes which are impacting on demand for goods and services offered in this way. Although the credit crunch of 2008-10 may seem like a thing of the past, wages growth has not kept pace with inflation, especially since Brexit, and this is bound to impact on demand for both essential and non-essential items in the shops.
The concept of offering residential accommodation in the City Centre to bring more people in is good in general, but only if those people have the disposable income to spend in the retail outlets in Bradford.
Andrew Idle Associates have recently let, on behalf of a Client, retail premises in Bradford City Centre as a hot food takeaway; and are shortly to receive instructions from another Client to market for sale another retail unit to be offered with vacant possession. We are always pro-active and keen to explore any angle that can be exploited to maximise interest.