AS lockdown eases, the first steps of a major city centre development are due to begin.
The £25 million One City Park development will be built on the former Tyrls police station, next to City Park.
Described as a “Grade A” office development, the scheme has been in the planning stages for several years.
And now the scheme will be one of the first major developments to begin in Bradford post lockdown.
Bradford Council yesterday announced that site investigation works, which will precede a full planning application for the development, are due to start imminently.
Council bosses say the development will take into account any changes in how office buildings operate in the post Covid world.
Muse Developments, the Council’s partner on the scheme, will do the on site works as they prepare to refine the building’s design prior to submitting a planning application later this year.
Although the Council says the development is a key part of the city’s regeneration, questions have been raised as to whether it is needed due to the large number of empty properties in the city centre already.
The Council has announced that Allied Exploration and Geotechnics will be on site from mid to late June for three weeks to drill and excavate several bore holes and trial pits within the site boundary. The investigation is needed to ascertain the ground conditions on the former police HQ site.
Muse was selected by Bradford Council last year as its development partner to bring forward “an innovative, BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rated 56,403 sq ft Grade A office building, along with complimentary public realm adjacent to Centenary Square.”
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Simon Dew, Development Director at Muse Developments, said: “Conducting this site investigation is a key piece of work, which will enable us to refine our designs for this best-in-class office building. Given the current Covid 19 restrictions, the works will be delivered safely and within current government guidelines.
“One City Park forms an important part of the council’s city centre masterplan, and we’re delighted to be bringing forward a scheme that will attract new occupiers to Bradford, reinforces the city centre as a fantastic location for business, and importantly drive both economic and social prosperity when it’s needed most.”
Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “I’m delighted that Muse Developments are now able to get on site, working safely and adhering to social distancing, and take the next step towards Bradford city centre having a striking, energy efficient and state-of-the-art mixed use building at its heart.
“We are aware of the debate, prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, around whether there will be a potential reduction in demand for office space in the future, and indeed whether the era of the traditional office is already in the past. A key part of our future thinking about One City Park and other developments across the district will be to address those predicted demands for flexible workspaces as businesses shift to a mix of home working and modern office working based on agile and flexible teams making best use of technology.
“Regardless of how different the completed One City Park might be from the pre-coronavirus concepts the development and our partnership with Muse is still essential to the future economic prosperity of the Bradford District.”
Both Muse and the council are in advanced discussions to formalise the proposed partnership, refine the design of the building and progress a planning application.
Before lockdown began, Councillor Debbie Davies (Cons, Baildon) tabled a question to a planned meeting of Bradford Council regarding One City Park.
The question read: “Why do you have such confidence that spending £25m on 5240 square metres of Grade A office space in the city centre is a sensible investment when there is 5,589 square metres of contemporary Grade A office space in nearby Nelson Street which has remained un-let for several months?”
Although the meeting was cancelled due to Covid 19, Cllr Davies’ question has since been answered.
She was told: “Bradford’s city centre office market has historically been characterised by stagnation and the resultant lack of high quality office accommodation being readily available, at the right price, in the right location and most importantly within a predictable timeframe has restricted the city’s ability to retain expanding local companies and to attract new inward investment business opportunities. Both public and private sector partners have long called for new Grade A office development in the city centre as a result of this and have been supportive of our proposals.
“Muse and the Council will combine resources to devise a bespoke marketing and lettings campaign for the building. This is planned to be a high quality campaign, backed with a package of financial incentives that will target potential occupants/ lessees for OCP including existing Bradford district businesses looking to expand and inward investing companies from the wider region and beyond.
“The investment in, and delivery of, the OCP scheme will give Bradford the ability to promote the city centre as a credible, attractive and cost competitive location for companies seeking high quality Grade A office accommodation, and will therefore fill that gap in the city’s promotional toolkit to attract new business investment. The new OCP offer, together with Bradford’s other acknowledged attributes of a young and skilled working population, a recognised innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, excellent and improving access to regional and national transport networks and a highly valued industrial and commercial heritage will provide a compelling message that Bradford is open for, and at last able to accommodate, modern business interests and investment.
“Other buildings in the city centre, designed and built decades ago, do not attract significant tenant interest and will now require significant refurbishment to bring them up to modern and efficient Grade A specification. Like it or not, business occupiers want to locate in new modern buildings and if they don’t find such a space in Bradford they will simply look elsewhere.”