How our new ‘Place Panel’ is pushing for better design in Bradford

August 21, 2019 Bradford Civic Society

How our new ‘Place Panel’ is pushing for better design in Bradford

Bradford Civic Society’s Paul Waley explains what the purpose of our new sub-group is, who’s already on board, and how you can get involved…

Bradford Civic Society’s Place Panel hosted the design and development team behind the new Bradford Market plans earlier this year

Why isn’t there an appropriate gateway entrance to Bradford city centre from Forster Square? Will Bradford’s food market survive and perhaps even thrive in Darley Street? Is a former department store the best place for a new arts hub?

These are the types of question we are discussing and issues we are pursuing in a new group called the Place Panel. The Place Panel is part of Bradford Civic Society, created specifically to lobby for good urban design, by which we mean design that enhances the urban landscape and the wellbeing of all those who use Bradford’s city centre.

We on the Place Panel are a group of people who care about Bradford — and in particular the city centre – how it looks and feels, seeing the best design of buildings and use of space more generally as a crucial part of the city’s all-round reinvigoration.

We were initially prompted to act by the lack of activity over Forster Square station and the area around the neighbouring former Royal Mail sorting office site, as well as more generally the lack of information and engagement on some other sites. We want to ensure that city centre planning decisions are subjected to scrutiny and respond to informed discussion. We see the remit of the Place Panel as being:

  • To act as critical friends to Bradford Council and developers for projects likely to impact on Bradford city centre
  • To engage with and challenge land and property holders and local government on important local design issues
  • To present alternative design proposals where current ones are absent or widely seen as unimaginative

We meet about four times a year, intervening when we believe we can promote debate, offer new ideas and visions, or encourage a re-think. We have now come to the end of our first year with a growing list of people involved, not only architects and related professionals but also community activists and other proactive Bradfordians.

In our first year, we discussed among other things Forster Square and the market move to Darley Street, which we later reviewed directly with the council officers and architects responsible. In April we linked up with Impressions Gallery, BCB Radio and Freedom Studios and were shown around Sunwin House where we heard about the possibility of converting the building into an arts hub. More recently, in July, we co-hosted a meeting with Waymaking and WUR Bradford at which we looked at alternative plans for bottom-up regeneration of the city centre.

Over the next year or so, we plan to engage energetically with Bradford Council and other key stakeholders, following up on the concerns that have occupied us in our first year but also taking up new issues as they arise.

If you would like to know more about the Bradford Civic Society Place Panel and its activities, please contact us here.

Paul Waley, Place Panel co-chair

August 2019