‘Bradford Live’ scheme hits the right notes at property lunch

The man leading the scheme to bring Bradford’s former Odeon building back into use gave an update to the business community recently.

Lee Craven, who intends to make ‘Bradford Live’ again, addressed a Chamber of Commerce audience in the city, telling them about the planned uses for the site.  The £20 million scheme will be operated by events and venue specialist, the NEC group.  It is expected that the venue will be up-and-running in September 2020, with 225 events and an anticipated 270,000 visitors each year.

The ‘four venues in one’ project – officially titled ‘Bradford Live’ – will reinvigorate Bradford’s nightlife, aswell as broadening its corporate offer and enhancing the city’s profile and image.  The 4,000 maximum capacity venue will include a 400-capacity lounge, a ballroom to accommodate 800, and four other bars.

Opened in 1930 as the New Victoria and renamed the Gaumont 20 years later, it has been closed since 2000.  There were several declarations of interest in the site in the interim period – whether to demolish and rebuild or to retain and protect its original features – but it now seems the current scheme is moving forwards.  A planning application is to be submitted later this year and leading social entrepreneur Lord Andrew Mawson has been announced as patron to the scheme.

Allan Booth, Chair of Bradford Chamber Property Forum (right, in the above photo), said afterwards:

“This scheme and the whole demolition-versus-save-the-Odeon debate has created many news headlines and column inches over the last few years.  It’s taken a lot of time and patience from Lee and others to persevere with his aspiration to bring the building back to life and he is to be applauded for that.  There were many questions from the floor following his presentation to Chamber members – always a good sign of the level of interest in a topic. We look forward to hearing from and supporting the progress of ‘Bradford Live’ – it’s another piece in the Bradford city centre regeneration jigsaw.”

The event took place at the Great Victoria Hotel, and was hosted by Bradford Chamber Property Forum chairman, Allan Booth.  Allan is a Director with Saltaire-based architects Rance Booth Smith.

Lee’s presentation can be found here


Property Lunch to hear about Odeon plans

Making ‘Bradford Live’ again

  • What’s happening with the former Odeon building?
  • How will it change the fortunes of Bradford?
  • When is it going to happen?

Come along and find out at this Bradford Property Forum Lunch – Tuesday 16 October, at the Great Victoria Hotel.

Lots of things have been said about the demise and re-birth of the building last known as the Odeon in Bradford.

Built in 1930 as the New Victoria, and re-named the Gaumont in 1950, the Godwin Street building finally became the Odeon in 1969.

Initially operating as a cinema, the venue has also been a dance hall and featured ballet, bingo, concerts and other types of live performance.  Artists such as the Beatles, the Stones, Tom Jones and the Everly Brothers have all headlined there.

Since 2000, it has stayed silent.  Under threat of demolition, campaigners appear to have saved this once popular live music venue.

Of late, one Bradford businessman has made it his mission to save the building that, let’s be honest, some have loved and some have loathed.  Lee Craven intends to make ‘Bradford Live’ again and has corporate support on his side.

If you’ve been living or working in Bradford for more than a couple of years, you’re likely to have heard many pros and cons about the building or the current redevelopment proposals.  Come and hear from the horse’s mouth, when Lee will tell us about the plans, and when they will come to fruition.

To read more about the ‘Bradford Live’ project, click here.

To read more about the history of the building, click here.

The format of the lunch is a two-course lunch with a pre-planned seating.  £30 for Chamber members; £42 non-members.

To book your place(s) please book online, email Clare or Jess or call 01274 206660 to speak to our events team.

York Property Forum: Mon 3 Sep

York businesses are invited to the next Property Forum to hear about new opportunities in the sector.

Speakers from higher education and the Local Enterprise Partnership will set out ideas and plans that will help drive forward the sub-region’s economy over the next few years.

The five-year capital investment plan of York St John University will be demonstrated by Rob Hickey, Executive Director for Innovation & Growth; while Chief Operating Officer at York, North Yorkshire & East Riding LEP, James Farrar, will spell out how he sees the current review helping businesses, once the changes are implemented.

Mike Cartwright from the Chamber’s policy team said:

“As always, we are determined to help push forward the region’s economic growth by supporting local business communities.  At a time of growing concern with Brexit or attention to outstanding issues such as devolution and skills shortages, we have to look at all areas where that support and growth can happen.  Universities are not only promoters of higher education, but also (often) owners of significant land and property; so hearing from Rob will be useful for many businesses.  We also need to liaise closely with the LEP to make sure they hear the business voice, so this is a good platform for our members to ask questions of key influencers in the local economy.”

The event takes place on Monday 3 September at York’s Grand Hotel (5-7pm); £15 Chamber members, £30 non-members.  Call 01904 210010 for more information or email events@wnychamber.co.uk

York Central site takes next step forward

A planning application has been submitted to develop the York Central site in the heart of the city.

The application includes plans for new residential, cultural and business neighbourhoods adjacent to the train station in one of the country’s largest brownfield sites. A partnership has been put together to drive the project forward and, if approves, the scheme is expected to add around £1.1 billion to the city’s economy, increasing it by 20% in the process.

A spokesperson for the partnership said: “This is a huge step forward in the delivery of York Central and in the future of York as we seek permission for the masterplan. A positive decision will unlock this underused piece of land and demonstrate a commitment to seeing it brought forward for the good of the city and its residents. We would encourage as many people as possible to view the plans and make comments to the planning authority within the consultation period. This is part of playing an active role in how York Central evolves, as the masterplan is the blueprint for future development on the site, but what actually gets built can still be shaped.”

Once the application is validated, a statutory 30-day consultation period will take place. Although the scheme will take around 15 to 20 years to be delivered, it will bring into commercial use one of the city’s most under-utilised sites.

The partnership spokesperson added: “York Central has the potential to deliver major economic growth for York by creating a new high-quality commercial quarter with its own entrance to the city’s railway station. It is vital that this opportunity is taken to attract growing sectors such as technology, bio-medical and creative industries as York’s city centre office market supply is currently restricted by the historic nature of its traditional core. The new commercial hub will offer up to 112,000 square metres of floor-space, aswell as more flexible workspaces for SMEs and start-ups.

York Central Partnership is a collaboration between Homes England, Network Rail, the National Railway Museum and York Council.

Property Forum debates land shortage issues

Bradford Chamber of Commerce and Bradford Council are to work closer together on finding solutions to the issue of land shortages in the District.

The Chamber recently produced a report on the shortage of development sites for commercial use and how this could impinge on the District’s new economic strategy.  The two issues were discussed recently at Bradford Property Forum, a networking/lobby group for businesses in the property and development sector.  One of the outcomes was for businesses and the local authority to liaise more in the hope of finding new solutions to the land shortage issue.

The meeting heard how future economic growth within the District will be jeopardised if more land is not made available for development.  There is currently around 50% less land available for employment use in Bradford than there was just five years ago, with the Council currently part-way through its planning process to identify appropriate sites.

Presentations from Bradford Council’s Executive member for regeneration and planning, Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw and Assistant Director Julian Jackson were followed by a question-and-answer panel joined by Chartback Development’s Stephen McManus and Marianne McCallum, formerly of Turley.  The meeting was chaired by Allan Booth of local architects Rance Booth Smith.  The Council representatives acknowledged the issues raised by businesses about employment land shortages, and appealed for the business community to work with them to ease the issue.

Further meetings are due to take place between the Council and the Chamber of Commerce to look at options for resolving the issues raised at the meeting and in the report.

You could also include the link to the next event – https://members.wnychamber.co.uk/WNY_Members/Events/Event_Display.aspx?EventKey=BPL161018

The report can be found at https://www.wnychamber.co.uk/chamber-report-highlights-growth-opportunities/

Bradford’s economic strategy is at https://www.investinbradford.com/economy/economic-strategy-for-bradford-district-2018-2030/

Development land to be debated at Bradford Property Forum

Businesses are invited to come along to the next Property Forum meeting in Bradford to discuss how the supply of employment land is crucial to the future success of the District’s economic strategy.

Senior business representatives from the property sector and Bradford Council staff responsible for planning and economic development will debate the issues and involve the audience in this hotly-contested topic.  Details are below.

Delivering Development for the District:  Is Space the Final Frontier?

Bradford Property Forum – 8am Tuesday 17 July, 2018

What:  How can the objectives of Bradford’s economic strategy be delivered without adequate land for development?

Why: This event ties together the Chamber’s recent report on the shortage of employment land with the District’s economic strategy, launched in March.  Key figures involved in both of these areas of activity will present, and others will be on hand to contribute from the floor.

Who: Marianne McCallum, Turley (and BPF Vice-Chair); Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw & Julian Jackson, Bradford Council; plus a business case study (TBC).  Short but relevant presentations will be made before a Q&A panel delves further into the issue.

When: 8-10am, Tuesday 17 July 2018 (breakfast from 8; the event is scheduled to end at 9.45)

Where: Great Victoria Hotel, Bridge St, Bradford BD1 1JX

Cost: £15 members, £30 non-members (inc. VAT)

If you’ve not yet seen the Chamber report (‘Creating Space for Future Success’), it can be found online here (hard copies may be available on request).

To book: Call 01274 206660 or email here


Housing forum launches ‘Liveability Leeds’

A new report sets out a call to action to ensure housing delivery supports economic growth in Leeds.

Established by the West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, Liveability Leeds brings together members of the housing development community from across the city, including Barratt & David Wilson Homes, Taylor Wimpey, Strata Homes, Rushbond, CEG, JLL, Cushman & Wakefield, Shulmans, Spawforths and Newgate Communications.

Liveability Leeds: Delivering housing choice for the people of Leeds calls for a step change in housing delivery within Leeds and a greater focus on creating ‘liveable’ places. A call to action, the report sets out a series of recommendations for how the public/private sector and local communities can work together to see Leeds recognised as the best city in the UK.

  • Included among the recommendations in the report:
  • Greater recognition of the integral role housing plays in economic growth
  • For housing developers to work in partnership with and communicate more effectively to local communities to improve the quality of place making and ensure local communities benefit from new housing
  • Support from the industry for local employment initiatives and apprenticeships
  • For local communities to be open to dialogue with housing developers, be clear on community priorities and hold politicians and developers to account
  • Greater ambition within the emerging Core Strategy and Site Allocations Plan to ensure it is fully aligned with economic ambitions and will deliver the right type of housing in the right locations at the right time and with the right level of services and community infrastructure.
  • Ongoing support for City Centre and Inner Area housing development balanced with further growth in suburban and outlaying settlements to meet the full range of housing need and demand
  • Improvements to the planning application processes to give greater certainty and confidence for all involved
  • Ensure infrastructure requirements are considered early in the process and aligned with housing delivery
  • Ensure developer contributions to physical and social infrastructure are delivered to support local communities and that Developers and the Council communicate these benefits effectively and transparently.

David Rolinson, Chair of Spawforths and Liveability Leeds said:
“New housing supports and drives prosperity for everyone in Leeds. If we don’t collectively deliver the right kind of homes, in the right places this could mean that people are being priced out of the Leeds housing market and seriously threaten the city’s economic growth aspirations. However, this is about much more than housing numbers. We all have a role to play if we want to see Leeds recognised as the best city in the UK. We need to work in partnership to deliver great places and communities which will make Leeds a truly liveable city.”

Paula Dillon, President of the Leeds Chamber of Commerce said:
“Being ambitious around economic growth is not enough. There are various strategies designed to grow the Leeds economy but the importance of housing is rarely acknowledged in full. For Leeds to fulfil its potential and compete on a regional, national and global stage we must recognise the importance of housing to inclusive growth.”

The forum is urging all parties to work together to accelerate housing delivery and enhance the “liveability” of Leeds. With a focus on place-making and quality the liveability agenda is about creating places where people want to live. The forum is therefore committed to working with local communities to understand their needs and aspirations, to ensure that they benefit from new housing and that the places of the future match the way that people want to live.
Liveability Leeds has been working with the City Council to address constraints to housing delivery in Leeds since 2016. The forum is currently drawing up a ‘Planning Charter’ with the Council that will set out a code of good practice for delivery of growth in Leeds.

David Rolinson went on to say:
“We recognised very early on in the life of the forum, that we needed to re-build trust and respect around housing delivery in Leeds. It has become an antagonistic and legalistic process which has lost sight of the benefits of housing for the communities of Leeds. The Planning Charter will be a code of good practice which will secure a benchmark level of quality from both the development industry and the Council towards housing schemes.”

The Liveability Leeds report can be downloaded here

Senior councillors asked to approve plans to transform Leeds waterfront

Senior councillors in Leeds will be asked on June 27th to approve creating a new fund to help transform the waterfront of the city centre with culture being placed at the heart of its future.

The meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board to be held at Civic Hall on Wednesday 27 June will be asked to formally endorse the Waterfront Charter put forward by the Leeds Chamber of Commerce and partners earlier this year, which aims to help the waterfront area achieve its cultural and economic potential.

The key to its success is partnership working, with landowners along the River Aire through the city centre and South Bank being encouraged to sign up to the charter which would see all stakeholders commit to working together for the benefit of the waterfront area and city as a whole.

To support this approach, the council is proposing to establish a Waterfront Investment Fund of up to £100,000 which would offer grant funding for activities to enhance the waterfront by making it more accessible and attractive. The fund, which would be expected to begin later this year, would operate through a system whereby any successful bid would need to at least be match-funded by the applicants.

The plan would support the delivery of the council’s inclusive growth strategy through stimulating economic development, as well as the Cultural Strategy by making the most of public spaces and providing a platform for the 2023 cultural programme in the city.

Improving the attractiveness and maximising the potential of the waterfront and the surrounding riverside are also key elements of the South Bank framework, enhancing connectivity with the rest of the city centre as part of one of the largest regeneration schemes of its type in Europe.

The Waterfront Charter which has been led by the chamber of commerce and partners would see culture underpinning all development in the area. It would support local communities and celebrate their diversity, opening up possible venues and assets and rethinking public spaces into attractive and welcoming places where culture can thrive.


Tim Waring, Director at planning consultants Quod and Chair of the Chamber’s Waterfront Group, said:

“Following the publication of our Waterfront Report in March 2017, the chamber has been working with stakeholders to put into action the recommendations of the Report. This included the creation of a Waterfront Charter which we hope landowners, occupiers, developers and other stakeholders will sign up to, to say they will make their part of the waterfront an attractive and accessible space. With more development coming forward in South Bank Leeds, the river and canal network, will in the future be right in the heart of the city centre.  Over the past year or so, we have seen a good level of commitment to improving and activating the waterfront, and this has set a strong foundation for everybody with an interest in the waterfront, to take responsibility and respond to this ‘call to action’.

“We are hoping that more businesses (owners and occupiers) will commit to the charter and do their bit to make the waterfront a key part of our city. We are especially delighted to see Leeds City Council sharing our enthusiasm to bring about a waterfront which we can all be proud of. The proposal for a Waterfront Investment Fund is a tangible demonstration that, working together, we can move this agenda forward.”

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said:

“The momentum is really building now in the South Bank area of the city centre, with families moving in, thousands of students learning there every day and major new businesses investing in the area. We are firmly committed to now looking at how we can maximise the opportunities offered on and alongside the River Aire, which running through the heart of our city is a wonderful natural asset which up to now has been underutilised as a resource to make our city more attractive, welcoming and prosperous.

“The Waterfront Charter and investment fund aims to change that by getting stakeholders and partners to all work together to transform the waterfront and its surroundings, importantly maintaining a people and community-first approach using culture as the key element underpinning all developments. We’d like to thank the chamber of commerce and partners for their excellent work leading the way to get us to this point. The potential of the waterfront is huge which is why this is such an exciting project for the local communities, all stakeholders and everyone in Leeds to benefit from.”

To see the executive board report go to – agenda item 10.

To download the Chamber Waterfront report click here

To view the Waterfront Charter click here



Chamber report highlights growth opportunities

In order for Bradford to meet the objectives in its new economic growth strategy, more land needs to be made available for employment use.  This is one of the calls to action in a new Chamber of Commerce report, out today (Wednesday 18 April 2018).

The report is available here.

Bradford Property Forum Chair, Allan Booth, of Rance Booth Smith Architects, comments below on the report.

“Bradford is making solid progress in many areas – within business and outside it.  A successful visit to the international property conference, MIPIM took place in March.  Phase Two of Broadway’s leisure development is well underway, and the backing of the company behind Birmingham’s NEC for the Odeon project is surely a vote of confidence.  Elsewhere, Barclays published survey findings in late 2017 stating that the city is the best place in the country in which to start a business.

There is also increasing pressure to bring the proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail line through the city, with a city centre station, which will make a transformational difference to local fortunes.

So, good things are happening and many businesses are looking to expand – and there’s the rub.  In order to accommodate this growth, expansion and success, there needs to be sufficient land available for businesses to plan, build or grow.

Bradford’s growth strategy highlights the need to bring forward more land for development for commercial and industrial use. It sets out to increase the District’s economy by £4bn, getting 20,000 more people into work and raising the skill levels of 48,000 to NVQ3 – all by 2030.

With all this in mind, Bradford Chamber of Commerce has published a report examining the need to identify suitable sites for employment land. The purpose is to help the necessary discussions between planners, agents, developers and the Council to facilitate economic growth and appropriate development in the right places.

Bradford’s Local Plan has identified the need for an additional 135 hectares of employment land in years to come.  Despite an expanding economy and fast-growing population, there is currently less land available for development overall than there was five years ago.

While housing generally commands higher values, we believe it should not be prioritised to the detriment of employment land identification.  Other potential solutions include land swaps, whereby publicly-owned sites are ‘traded’ with privately-owned ones to help facilitate, for example, regeneration, or reduce market blockages. This could be an appropriate solution when assessing existing employment land allocations that are considered unsuitable due to topographic or infrastructure related issues.

These sites may be more appropriate for housing and might be ‘swapped’ with sites that are more appropriate for industry; for example, sites currently on flood plains or close to major transport corridors. Access to publicly under-written bridging finance (often short-term or ‘stop gap’ funding measures used to smooth property transactions) might be helpful and allow companies to move and expand without too much short term cash flow implications.

The Chamber, via its work undertaken in the Property Forum, believes that there is an urgent need to update Bradford’s Employment Land Review, last updated in 2011. Bradford Property Forum and the Chamber generally stands ready to support the Council in developing an employment land policy that will facilitate economic growth and, in turn, deliver greater prosperity and job opportunities for the citizens of the Bradford District.”


  1. The Chamber of Commerce report, entitled “Creating Space for Future Success: Ensuring Growth Happens in Bradford”, was put together by members of Bradford’s Property Forum. It includes examples of companies facing challenges as they seek to expand.
  2. It was sponsored by Incommunities, Johnson Mowat, Rance Booth Smith, Turley and Walker Singleton.
  3. It was written by Allan Booth, Clive Brook, Marianne McCallum, Steve McManus, Jonathan O’Connor and Mike Cartwright.

Pic Caption (L-R): Stephen Miles (Cushman & Wakefield), Jonathan O’Connor (Walker Singleton), Ben Pretty (C&W), Richard Sunderland (CBRE), Allan Booth (Rance Booth Smith)

The report is available here.

Cushman & Wakefield’s and CBRE’s presentations at Bradford Property Forum on 18/04/18 highlighted changes in current market trends in relation to property and future forecasting in how this may continue.  A separate report on this will appear in due course, with presentations made available.

Redeveloping Heritage Buildings: Why we need to look forward to preserve the past

For the last ten years I have been involved in grappling with the future of historic and at times ancient buildings. The individual challenge changes but the broader issue is consistent. All of these buildings possess breath taking beauty or an awe-inspiring atmosphere and they all come with a myriad of practical challenges: heating, lighting, internet, energy efficiency, parking and on and on. In that time I have found a consistent method for dealing with this challenge which ties into broader strategies for any kind of problem solving.

As one delegate at a recent meeting suggested; “Wouldn’t it be cheaper, and easier to knock it down and sell the site?” Well it would, but fortunately, this way of thinking has been rightly consigned to the 1960’s, a period that eradicated many of our very important Stately Homes, Follies, Churches, Castles and many more. It was pioneer protestors such as Sir John Betjeman and his artist friend John Piper who began the fight to stop this wanton destruction. Thankfully their efforts stemmed the tide and made way for inspired organisations like the Landmark Trust, the Churches Conservation Trust and of course English Heritage all of whom have been an enormous force for good in preserving heritage buildings.

Old buildings give a place its identity. They shape a place’s character and give colour to a place’s personality. If a town was a person, what kind of a person would a ‘new town’ be as opposed to an old city like York for instance? With whom would you like to sit down with a cold beer and enjoy a Sunday afternoon’s banter? Who would relate the richest anecdotes and tell the most intriguing stories?

But of course anything of real antiquity comes at a price because you are paying for the layered histories distilled within it. Its price reflects is inherent value as something that couldn’t be replaced. It therefore becomes priceless and as such, coveted.

Professor Simon Thurley CEO at English Heritage before its restructure in 2015 said

“There are still lots of places with very strong cultural heritage – whether it be museums, or streetscapes, or castles, or churches, or palaces – which have not yet cottoned on to that. We somehow have got to get these places understanding that they have got assets here and not liabilities.” He goes on to make the point that “we should make a more formal recognition that heritage is in fact a production factor in the economy. It’s not just about culture, it’s about economics.”

The notion that heritage buildings have an intrinsic, irreplaceable value is broadly understood but heritage doesn’t mean preserving things in aspic. True heritage conservation is about adapting the building to meet the needs of the present day whilst retaining those intangible qualities that make it valuable in the first place. Particularly if we want people to understand and connected with our past via architecture, we need to not just preserve these buildings, but find a use for them.

But, understanding value does nothing to make practical issues relating to the redevelopment of old buildings disappear. What does help, is creating a mindset that views the positive values of the building for what they are, and the problems not as insurmountable issues, but opportunities to create something new.

This is something IVE has been working on across multiple projects. For example, we have worked with Thomas Lister Chartered Surveyors, to help with re-purposing the now redundant Calderdale Magistrates Courts. Over the last three years Calderdale Council has made significant financial investment into other major heritage assets in Halifax such as their unique Piece Hall; recently visited by HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall. It therefore makes sense to integrate other important heritage building’s futures into this vision. But to do this, a financially viable, creative proposition needs to be found for buildings like the Magistrates Court.

To achieve this, we recently hosted an event in Halifax that convened a number of interested stakeholders from the private, public and third sectors, in a creative conversation about the future of the courts. Initially, we gathered the stakeholders together and discussed some of the potential ideas for reusing the courts. As expected, conversations focused on the problems it presented: the court’s massive footprint, its Grade II Listing, its complex layout (including the cells in the basement!), its limited town-centre car parking and out-dated, inefficient energy management system.

What we then did was have everyone involved engage in some fun simple activities that explained the common ways in which we shut down and limit ideas followed by a series of interactive exercises which prime the brain into a creative mode. Then we took the visitors inside the building and suddenly the conversations tended to be about admiring the beautiful oak panelling, plaster ceiling decoration and stained glass, as well as the magnificent proportion of the windows letting light flood in and the awesome fireplaces with ornate timber mantles and beaten copper hoods. The seemingly insurmountable problems faded away and instead people opened up to imagining the possibilities of what it could be used for. We had suggestions ranging from a boutique hotel, a creative hub and new flats to an interactive gaming venue, a series of relaxation chambers and a dog hotel!

We’re also engaged in a project to develop the next generation of conservationists, Ignite, part of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s “Kick the Dust” initiative. Ignite connects young people with heritage spaces and then uses their natural creativity to reimagine the space, envisaging new uses for it that will preserve that heritage by giving it new life.

In the end, if investment is made strategically to protect our beautiful old buildings by making sure they serve new communities in relevant and exciting ways, their presence on our streets as characters we know and love, will pay dividends. The loss of a building liability is cheap and easy. The creative preservation of heritage assets that represent our sense of place is difficult. But we have to be up for the challenge.

IVE is a social enterprise that is working to ensure a more creative future for businesses, teachers, children and young people. If you’d like to learn more please get in touch at hello@weareive.org to see how we can help provide a creative toolset to solve the challenges facing your business.