THE MAJOR retailers in Bradford’s new shopping centre have spoken of their confidence in the development as its official opening date was confirmed for the first time.
The Broadway Bradford will open its doors on Thursday November 5 - making it the largest UK retail centre to launch in 2015.
It is hoped it will attract Christmas shoppers into the city.
The £260m development is expected to employ around 2,500 people.
City centre retail spending in Bradford is expected to increase by 75 per cent to approximately £1bn with city footfall increasing to more than 32 million.
The Broadway is now over 70 per cent leased.
Its opening has been a long time coming for Bradford.
Work to begin clearing the site began in March 2004 when the first buildings in the city centre were demolished.
Changes to the road network and preparatory work on the site were then carried out but it was mothballed in 2008 by the Australian retail giant Westfield amid the credit crunch and subsequent recession.
At the time Westfield said it had already spent £80m on the Broadway site and was committed to its future.
In 2010 part of the site was used as an urban garden by Bradford Council.
The Bradford Broadway site had become known as the city’s “hole in the ground” and frustration over the lack of progress culminated in a protest group occupying it in the summer of 2012.
However building work began in early 2014 and now it is set to open in five months time. Duncan Bower, director of development at Westfield Corporation said: “After years of hard work and crucial support from many sectors of the Bradford community, I am very pleased to announce an opening date for The Broadway of Thursday November 5 2015.”
The centre’s two largest stores have been handed over to anchor tenants Marks & Spencer and Debenhams for their interior fit outs. The two retail giants were the first to sign up to the revised scheme.
On completion, The Broadway will be owned by a fund advised by Meyer Bergman and two major Canadian pension funds, Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan and AIMCo.
Westfield will manage the property after centre opening.
Andrew Crooks, head of region for Yorkshire at Marks & Spencer, welcomed the opening date being confirmed.
He said: “It’s great to see the development nearing completion and we are looking forward to welcoming customers to the new store in The Broadway.
“The store will create a fantastic new shopping experience and we hope that customers will join us on the opening day to see all of the new and exciting features that we will be bringing to the city.”
Gareth Dougherty, property acquisitions manager at Debenhams, said: “Debenhams is very excited to be involved in The Broadway Bradford and we look forward to offering customers an extensive shopping experience with access to some of our top designer brands, such as Julien Macdonald, Jasper Conran and Betty Jackson to name a few.
“We look forward to the next stage of this exciting project.”
Bradford Council Leader, Coun David Green, said: “It’s great news to get the official opening date for The Broadway Bradford which has been eagerly anticipated by people across the region.
“We have been really pleased to see the progress of this development and it is right on schedule. The timing is perfect for all those wanting to come to Bradford to do their Christmas shopping.”