Lone businessman unveils £15m rescue plan for Bradford Odeon

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AN ambitious proposal to turn Bradford’s disused Odeon cinema into a 3,500-seat live music venue will cost between £15m and £19m, it was revealed today.

Lee Craven, a local businessman, has spent two years and around £50,000 of his own money to find a viable use for the building before it becomes too run-down to be of any use.

Architect Tim Ronalds' view of the Bradford Odeon

Architect Tim Ronalds' view of the Bradford Odeon

Today he unveiled further details of the proposals at an event at the city’s Midland Hotel.

He was flanked by industry experts who he has recruited to act as a consultants to the project.

Mr Craven, director of family textile firm Jessgrove, based in Great Horton, said he was simply motivated by a desire to help Bradford’s recovery and regeneration.

“The Odeon is critical to Bradford city centre’s future,” he said.

Architect Tim Ronalds' view of the Bradford Odeon

Architect Tim Ronalds' view of the Bradford Odeon

“The Bradford Live project, by bringing the building back to life, will pour thousands of people into the city centre, helping it regenerate and building on the sucess of City Park.”

Industry experts have advised him that the building lends itself to a mid-sized rock and pop venue and that its proposed capacity, around 4,000, would not be in competition with other venues in the region.

The consultants believe that it could host 200 live events a year.

The Odeon is currently owned by the Homes and Communities Agency and Bradford Council is considering an offer to take the building on.

Tim Ronalds, the architect behind the Hackney Empire restoration, is part of the Bradford Live team, as is Nick Russell, a funding specialist who worked on the Leeds Arena project.

The project team hopes that Bradford Council takes ownership of the Odeon and supports its development as a live music venue using cash from various sources including the Lottery and European funding. The team is not expecting the council to provide any significant amount of taxpayers’ cash for the project.