Place Panel update: April 2021

April 23, 2021
Posted in Place Panel
April 23, 2021 Bradford Civic Society

Place Panel update: April 2021

An update from Bradford Civic Society’s Place Panel.

Big changes are underway in Bradford, and we are doing our best to keep abreast of them at the Place Panel. We have hosted a series of meetings with Councillors and Council officers over the last few months, pressing our case to become a “critical sounding board” and consultee for urban design issues in Bradford city centre.

We have found support in all the right places, and our team (made up of architects, urban planners, designers, and others) were recently invited to give our views on the Top of the Town/ City Village development and One City Park, the new office building to be built opposite the Alhambra. Council officials have assured us they are keen to receive feedback at an early stage of planning and lay out an overall vision that isn’t engineering-led. Our suggestion that some sort of physical presence be created where city centre developments can be discussed has also been met favourably.

During these meetings, we have:

Called for a coherent vision for plans across the city centre, for greater accountability and for more timely consultation. After all, there is little point in initiating a consultation process once important funding decisions have already been taken.

Expressed our disquiet about the lack of significant and timely consultation and of vision for the Top of the Town plan, which now extends from the Oastler Centre (soon to become City Village) down Darley Street to include the site of the new market.

Made a case for a continued revival in Bradford that is based on local vision, local business and local spirit.

We follow with interest:

Delayed developments at Forster Square railway station, where we have been promised a place on the stakeholder group.

Possible developments for the vacant site east of the station owned by British Land.

Plans to convert High Point into a residential complex.

The rising of Bradford Live out of the old Odeon.

The City of Culture 2025 bid.

Possible developments at the Kirkgate Centre.

Other projects that form part of the Transforming Cities work, including closing Market Street to traffic.

Place Panellists have:

Put together plans for a People’s Property Portfolio, a community benefit society. The plan involves community ownership of underused buildings. It is hoped this will become a catalyst for change, taking over a cluster of buildings and connecting areas together.

Compiled an interactive digital map placed on our website had some 600 responses with people commenting on specific sites.

Successfully bid for funds to enable Manchester School of Architecture students to undertake project work in the Top of the Town/ City Village.

Anthony Barnett and Paul Waley, co-convenors, Bradford Civic Society Place Pane – April 2021.

More information about the Place Panel, including a timeline of activities 2018 to 2020:


17 October – first meeting convened at Assembly, Bradford.

5 February – Bradford Head of Markets and others involved in the market move to Darley Street introduced and discussed plans.

10 April – Meeting with group working on a plan for Sunwin House, with moves to convert it into an arts hub.

4 July – co-hosted meeting with Sarah Spanton of Waymarking/ Breakfast Club and Jean and Chemaine (WUR Bradford).


23 October – Discussion of Market Street pedestrianisation campaign.

29 January – Richard Gelder and Darren Badrock, from Bradford MDC Planning, Transportation & Highways department introduced the Transforming Cities Fund bid and the Bradford Forster Square station project.

4 June – Bradford Property Forum & Bradford Civic Society discussion on The Future of Bradford City Centre. Julian Jackson, assistant director for planning and transport, and others about progress on the Transforming Cities Fund, City Village and other projects.


We put together a set of Place Panel core principals and proposals, and picked up here by the Telegraph & Argus.

We compiled an interactive digital map placed on our website had some 600 responses with people commenting on specific sites (you may have seen it and contributed). Again this was covered by the T & A, and received many more responses we believe than the Council’s own open-ended online consultation for its 2040 Vision plan.

We challenged the Council on some amendments to the plans for Darley Street Market. We received a detailed response, but one that we felt was not entirely convincing. (July)

The Civic Society successfully bid for funds to enable Manchester School of Architecture students to undertake project work in the Top of the Town/ City Village. (August)

We continue to follow as best we can developments concerning Forster Square station and surrounds, the Top of the Town/ City Village, work related to the Transforming Cities Fund, Bradford Live, Year of Culture and other projects. We continue to press for greater transparency, wider and more inclusive consultation and a sustained focus on good urban design.

Please let us know if there are issues or developments that you feel we should follow up on.