August 8, 2022 Bradford Civic Society

Bradford’s Kirkgate Shopping Centre to be demolished – but what will replace it?

Bradford Council has announced that it has purchased the 1970s Kirkgate Shopping Centre in Bradford City Centre with the intention of demolishing the landmark brutalist building.

The news – which was exclusively reported by Chris Young in the Bradford Telegraph and Argus – paves the way for Kirkgate’s anchor tenant Primark to move into the large vacant Debenhams unit in The Broadway, and will unlock a key regeneration site adjacent to the under-construction Darley Street Market.

Kirkgate Shopping Centre was opened in 1976 following the controversial demolition of the Victorian Kikrgate Market on the same site. The modernist building was home to 70 stores and a Council-run market at its peak, but the opening of The Broadway in 2015 led to an exodus of high street chains from the centre and the surrounding streets. Bradford Council’s decision to close the Kirkgate Market when the new Darley Street Market opens in 2023, as well as the mysterious loss of T J Hughes department store, has left a question mark over the future viability of Kirkgate for some time now. In 2019, the Chairman of Bradford Civic Society suggested the centre may be better off demolished, speaking at the time in a debate about the future of city centre high streets.

Kirkgate Shopping under construction in the 1970s – image from Bradford Timeline flickr account, an extract from Bradford In The Picture T&A supplement from 1974

In 2021, Bradford Civic Society hosted an exhibition – Bradford: Reimagined – in which architecture students created this concept vision of Bradford City Centre with a green park at its heart in place of Kirkgate Shopping Centre.

Commenting on today’s news, Councillor Alex Ross Shaw, the Council’s executive member for planning, regeneration and transport, said with retail increasingly becoming focused around the Broadway, and more high street chains disappearing from UK towns and cities, a shift in this area of the city was needed.

Bradford Civic Society has requested a public meeting to hear more about the plans for Kirkgate and the wider City Village concept.