Water park marks major step forward for city’s revival

Bradford Council artist impression of City Park.
Bradford Council artist impression of City Park.
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WHEN the city park is officially opened next year it will mark a major step forward in the regeneration of Bradford as one of the first key schemes to be completed.

Building work on the £24m development is set to finish within eight months according to council bosses.

The six-acre park will contain the UK’s largest city centre water feature and include fountains, walkways, lighting and sound effects.

The drainable pool within it links back to architect Will Alsop’s masterplan vision for Bradford which included a giant lake opposite City Hall. Although this has been scaled back, the park would be the first key element linked to Alsop’s designs to become a reality.

However critics say that a decision by the Big Lottery Fund not to back the project shows the lack of support within the city for the scheme.

The Yorkshire Post can reveal that lottery chiefs rejected a bid from Bradford Council because of question marks over the level of public involvement and benefit from the project.

Minutes from the Big Lottery Fund’s Living Landmarks Committee say: “The committee agreed that the project was fundable.

“However in considering the application in competition with others received, the committee decided that it preferred other applications in the portfolio.

“When discussing the application the committee agreed that the design proposals for the project were strong and understood how the project linked with the wider regeneration proposals for the city.

“It considered that other applications had more strongly demonstrated future community benefit.”

John Pashley, a member of the Bradford Odeon Rescue Group said: “It will be a massive waste of £24m of public money. The paperwork shows it failed to get lottery funding because the bid did not demonstrate that the people of Bradford wanted it.”

Mike Cowlam, Bradford Council’s assistant director of regeneration said the authority did not agree with the Big Lottery Fund’s findings but declined to comment further.

Bradford Council’s bid for lottery funding known as “Park at the Heart” was said to have received support from more than 30,000 people who filled in forms, sent text messages or stood on an especially designed “bid-o-meter” to register their backing for the scheme. The bid also enlisted the support of celebrity designer Linda Barker and was part of a presentation to the Queen during a royal visit to the city in 2007.

Despite missing out on lottery funding the project has still gone ahead with £24m coming from Yorkshire Forward, Bradford Council, the Homes and Communities Agency and the Regional Transport Board.

Figures obtained by the Yorkshire Post show that more than £2m of public money was spent on consultants connected to the project. More than £1.1m has been paid to Gillespies – a London-based firm who were appointed as lead designers.

A further £398,874 has been paid to EC Harris, a built-asset consultancy firm, again from London, which has been appointed as project manager.

In total 14 consultants have been commissioned to do work on the park ranging from borehole extraction to help fill the pool to education work for schools and the design of banners promoting it.