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What's in store for Bradford's big 'hole'?
For many people in Bradford, it's an eyesore that is affecting the city's landscape, and now people who work close to the controversial Broadway shopping site want to see change. They say it's time for action and have formed a group to do just that.
An unlikely landmark: Bradford's 'hole'
It was supposed to revolutionise Bradford's shopping experience and turn it into a top retail destination but, five years later, after all the hype and a lot of digging, the multi-million pound Broadway retail and leisure complex remains unfinished. What does remain is a vast empty space - a big 'hole' in the ground - which has fast become Bradford's familiar but unwelcome landmark.
Ajit Singh and Chris Aldred want change
The developers, Westfield, have put the project on hold because of the recession. Now businesses based near the site say it's time for change and have formed the Westfield Neighbours Action Group, to come up with a way to make the area more attractive until work there starts again.
Chris Aldred is administrator for Bradford Cathedral and Ajit Singh from the arts group Kala Sangam are both members of the group. They say their organisations are suffering because the big fence surrounding the site is putting people off from venturing any further.
Chris says he hopes the group will help to raise more awareness about the area. He explains: "We have taken the lead on this but are hoping very much that other businesses around the perimeter of the hole will join in and be equally as much part of it as us."
Ajit says so far they've had a good response following their first meeting: "I think there were 25 people in the end, which was very encouraging. There were a lot of people who felt passionate, and who came not just from the vicinity but from around the district of Bradford."
Chris adds there's no point in dwelling in the past and wants to think ahead: "We see this Neighbours Action Group as being a positive contributor. We're not in the business of saying to the council and Westfield, 'You should not have dug that hole in the first place'. That's been and gone, we are where we are now. What we're very much concerned about are the local businesses around the perimeter who are suffering."
Chris says the area has become a ghost town which is having a real impact on them: "You've only got to look around and see, the holding acts as a physical barrier and nobody is coming to this side of town anymore.
"Kala Sangam and the Cathedral in particular rely on people to be physically present around our business enterprises if you like, and others throughout Little Germany where the same is true. We want to be positive about it and say to the council and Westfield: 'These are some ideas. We've talked between ourselves and these are some of the things we would like to see happening in the next two years'."
A Christmas car park, a thoroughfare, an open art exhibition area or turning the area into a temporary green space are some of the ideas under consideration.
Work has stopped due to the recession
Ajit says the area just needs to look a bit better and should not be forgotten. He says: "There were a lot of ideas discussed in the meeting and many stemmed from what could be done to make the space look nice. We just want to make it look attractive and welcoming and make this part of the city look alive. I think what's happened with this development is kind of like a huge barrier across the city and has separated us from the rest of the city. Little Germany is an important part of the city and is hugely important. We're in the fringe of the city which makes our importance even more significant, because right on the fringe sits this horrible site, which has divided us really.
Ajit adds the group's message is simple: "What's important is that people recognise this as part of the city centre again, as well as other parts of the city.
"If we could get people coming across that black hole, that hole in the ground, to this side of town, well that's the aim really."
What would you do with Bradford's 'hole'? Fill in the form below and send us your ideas! This is what people have been saying:
John in Bradford says:
Try speaking to Bradford Civic society! They seem to have well thought out and viable ideas, with Bradford's interests at heart.
Meisticus in Sheep Lea says:
Turn it into am ampitheatre and have chariot races and gladitorial games there...
Joy in Bradford says:
A free car park would to be good, it would encourage people to visit the city. At least it would be used for something.
The Peace Artistes Street Band in Bradford say:
Open air market? We would like to play music in the hole!
last updated: 18/09/2009 at 10:37
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