CAMPAIGNERS who fought for over a decade to save Bradford’s former Odeon building from the bulldozers have hailed a “momentous” council decision to support plans to create a venue for live music.
Councillors on the executive board voted today to enter into an agreement with developer Bradford Live to progress the plans for a 4,500 capacity venue predominantly for rock and pop concerts.
A report by council officers concluded the proposals “are based on sound construction and development principles that illustrate the redevelopment...is technically possible.”
Ownership of the site will be passed from the council to the developers, who now face finding around £18m to cover development costs.
Council leader David Green told the executive committee that business plans and finances had still to be “pulled together” but council support was a “major leap forward.”
Support from the council gave Bradford Live the opportunity to “go away and secure funding and support”, he said.
The authority would be working closely with Bradford Live and campaigners from Bradford Odeon Rescue Group “to give it the greatest chance of success,” said Coun Green, although the authority has ruled out making a financial contribution.
The council, he said, would be setting “clear milestones” so that the public can see if and when when progress is made.
Coun Green praised council officers for the work they had done so far. He singled out campaigners Norman and Julie Littlewood who “started the ball rolling” in 2003 with a campaign to save the building.
Mark Nicholson, of BORG, described the council’s decision as having “all the makings of being a momentous day for Bradford”.
After the meeting he said: “It’s definitely a momentous day. We are one step closer to the happy ending we all want. We have always said that any proposal has to be viable and has to pay its way.
“In principle they (the council) are confident it is a viable scheme. They have voted to enter into a development agreement.”
Businessman Lee Craven, who put together the Bradford Live team using his own money, said much of next year would be taken up sorting out private and public sector funding.
“The council has given us the official green light to work with us in developing that site, with Bradford Live taking the lead. They (the council) have influence - if they say they want the project to happen, it gives it clout.”
Funding sources being explored include the Regional Growth Fund, Arts Council, Lottery grants, Leeds City Region and European Structural Funds.
Mr Craven said they were in the “very early stages” of sorting out the funding.
The council’s decision to enter into an agreement with Bradford Live was welcomed by those who supported the fight to save the building from demolition.
On twitter Evangeline Spachis, a writer from Bradford, said: “A wondrous achievement and a sound message to the doubters.”
Councillor Ralph Berry, a member of the executive, called it a “very big step forward.”
Darren Hindle, a Bradford accountant, tweeted: “Congratulations to Bradford Live on receiving council approval to refurb and reignite the Bradford Odeon.”