BRADFORD’S “Top of Town” area will soon be getting a unique new business after plans to convert a former discount store were approved.
A section of the former Boyes unit on North Parade will be transformed into a “virtual reality experience” under the proposals – which were first revealed earlier this year.
Visitors to this new spin on video game arcades will don high tech virtual reality gear and immerse themselves in games and state of the art virtual experiences.
Boyes closed the North Parade store last year after moving to a unit in the Kirkgate Shopping Centre, leaving the large top of town building, which lies within a City Centre Conservation Area, vacant.
In April Zeeshan Khan submitted a planning application to Bradford Council to convert part of the building, Unit 2, from retail to leisure use.
FIRST LOOK: Inside Crafted Bradford in North Parade Bradford
The section of the building in question overlooks Oastler Square, and its listed statue of Richard Oastler – a West Yorkshire political and ‘factory king.’
It is also close to a number of listed buildings.
This proximity to a listed landmark initially led to the plans being refused. Earlier this Summer Conservation Officers on the Council raised concerns that the application did not include enough detail of how the new business would look, and how a changed backdrop could impact the statue.
They said the statue was a “key part of Bradford’s history.”
The plans were re-submitted, this time containing more detail of how the building’s existing appearance would be maintained. It said: “Every effort has been made in this development to match and complement the host building and the other buildings in the surrounding conservation area.”
This time Conservation Officers backed the scheme – although they pointed out that any new signage or advertisements would also need a separate planning application.
Approving the application this week, planning officers said: “The proposal will see a vacant site brought into use within a sustainable location.
“The proposed change of use will maintain the character of the host property and that of the setting of the neighbouring heritage assets and the City Centre Conservation Area.
“Further to this it is envisaged the proposed change of use will have no significant impacts on residential amenity or highways and pedestrian safety.”
Oastler Square is part of Bradford Council’s Townscape Heritage scheme – a National Lottery funded project that will see neglected buildings in the Top of Town area restored to their former glory. And earlier this year it was announced that Bradford Council has secured another £925,000 funding from the European Regional Development Agency to improve Top of Town areas including Oastler Square.
The proposal is the latest in a series of schemes to turn city centre buildings into leisure use.
A former office building on Hustlergate will be converted into a new escape room venue under plans announced last year.
And two units in the Broadway Shopping Centre will become leisure venues in a bid to “enhance the vitality” of the centre.
The former Ann Summers unit and vacant first floor space will be turned into a “Ninja Warrior” centre – offering an all ages obstacle course.
And the Menkind store will be moved to another unit to make way for a climbing wall centre. Like the Ninja Warrior plan, this business would also make use of previously unoccupied first floor space in the centre.
And in April an application to turn an industrial unit on Buck Street, off Leeds Road, into a soft play centre were approved.