Bradford’s Covid Economic Recovery Plan includes city centre park

PLANS for a new city centre park bringing green space to central Bradford features in Bradford Council’s Economic Recovery Plan to turn the district’s fortunes round post-Covid-19.

The plans have been formulated with civic and business leaders to help sustain jobs, create new opportunities and boost productivity as the district recovers from the economic damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also among the ideas for rebooting the economy is an acceptance the district needs to improve its image to convince people it is a good place to live and work, with a thriving economy and young, diverse population.

There are plans for a new city centre urban green space, which could potentially be based at the derelict Forster Square site.

The plan will go before the Council’s executive committee on January 5, and will be shared with stakeholders and potential funders in the New Year.

Bradford’s economy had been on the up before the pandemic hit, and the Council has recruited business leaders to its Economic Recovery Board to produce an effective plan.

It aims to address the rapid rise in unemployment, ongoing gaps in skills, poor connectivity in the district and the district’s reputation.

As well as dealing with the problems created by Britain leaving the European Union, it also aims to embrace opportunities Brexit has created, as well as the growth of the digital and green economies.

There are five main areas identified in the plan which could be key to Bradford’s resurgence.

These are: improving the skills of young people in the district; supporting businesses to embrace new technology; using the district’s cultural assets to drive economic growth; helping people to lead healthy and productive lives; and emphasis on making the economy connected, resilient and sustainable.

The Council is focusing on improving the skills of the workforce, and creating an environment for start-ups and existing businesses to thrive, as well as improving physical and digital infrastructure.

Part of this includes potentially designating Little Germany as a Heritage Action Zone, turning it into a regional creative centre, improving facilities for the creative and cultural industries in the area to drive growth, attract visitors, and to also create new living, working and leisure space.

Environmental sustainability is also at the heart of the plans, encouraging people to live healthier lives with new walking and cycling routes and new green spaces.

This includes the possible creation of a city centre green urban park, with a design competition for the new centralised Eden planned. One location for this park being mooted is the derelict site at Forster Square.

Plans to reboot the economy include retro-fitting homes and public buildings to make them energy efficient, creating a sustainable food supply, and forming a fleet of hydrogen powered light goods vehicles.

It also highlights how the £25 million regeneration work in Shipley and Keighley funded by the Towns Fund can be part of the district’s recovery.

Professor Zahir Irani, deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bradford and chair of the Economic Recovery Board, said: “We believe the current economic crisis can be repurposed to our advantage.

“By supporting changes to the economy and encouraging new ways of working, we have an opportunity to position Bradford better and deliver great health outcomes and wellbeing for all.

“Our ability to do this is helped by the big change in political attitudes we have seen since Covid-19 with bolder economic and social strategies dominating policy debates around the world.

“The pandemic is our chance to reset our economy to create a healthier, more equitable and more sustainable future for all.”

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford Council, said: “We would like to thank Professor Zahir Irani and board members for their hard work and commitment to this agenda.

“Our Economic Recovery Plan takes account of the profound changes in the public health and economic context and sets out the actions we need to take to recover the economic progress we were making before Covid-19.

“We want to inspire collaborative action and leverage support from the business community and other stakeholders and establish a clear business case for further government and private sector investment across our district.

“This will enable Bradford to play an important role in helping Britain to build back better.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus | News