Plan for enterprise village to help Bradford start-ups

AFZAL Kahn, the automotive design entrepreneur, has joined forces with property developer St James Securities to launch an enterprise village in Bradford offering cheap space in shipping containers to start-up businesses.

Paul Morris

The joint venture hopes to win planning consent from Bradford council to develop the temporary scheme on brownfield land facing Forster Square.

Mr Kahn, a self-made businessman and property investor, said the units will be open to “anybody and everybody” and will help take the fear out of starting up a new business.

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He told the Yorkshire Post: “I started on a business enterprise scheme. I wish something like this was around at that time. We are making it happen now.”

Mr Kahn, whose motto is “the road is my catwalk”, specialises in refining high-end cars for wealthy customers.

This involves stripping new cars and rebuilding them with parts designed and manufactured by Mr Kahn and his group of companies.

Mr Kahn said: “I have achieved all the goals in my life. This is me putting something back into Bradford.”

The units will offer low cost and short-term lets and will benefit from footfall from the nearby retail park, one of the busiest in the region. The first phase aims to deliver 25-30 units.

Mr Kahn said that a cluster of 30 start-up businesses working in close proximity will be able to take strength from each other.

Mr Kahn was inspired by the Boxpark pop-up mall in Shoreditch in East London, although the focus of the enterprise village will be business start-ups rather than retail.

He said: “I took a journey to put this project together. I went to a load of people and told the story to St James Securities and they fell in love with it.”

Paul Morris, a director at St James Securities, said Christchurch in New Zealand used shipping containers in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake to help keep the local economy afloat and attract new businesses. He said the enterprise village in Bradford will cover all sectors.

St James is a prominent developer responsible for major regeneration projects in the North including St Paul’s Place in Sheffield, the Round Foundry, Electric Press and Bridgewater Place in Leeds and Centenary Square in Bradford.

Mr Morris said St James will help the scheme get off the ground, source tenants and do fit-out work. The overall investment is relatively minimal at around £600,000.

A masterplan on the enterprise village said the project will regenerate an important part of Bradford, show that people have potential when given the opportunity and improve the city’s image.

Developers hope to attract business uses including research and development, office, food and drink, small-scale manufacturing, creative arts, IT industries and professional services.

The masterplan said the site will be developed as a series of landmark sculptures formed by shipping containers, which will create enclosed public spaces for art exhibitions, events and cafes.

“The concept of having a vibrant community of young business will appeal to those who aspire to the entrepreneurialism which was so prevalent in Victorian Britain,” added the document.

Mr Kahn bought the land more than a decade ago. It was previously part of the Bradford Channel plan to regenerate the city centre.

Start-ups should contact [email protected]