Next phase begins to create multi-purpose live events venue for city

The landmark redevelopment project, Bradford Live, has begun the process to find a new contractor as it enters its main phase of construction.

The project will transform Bradford city centre’s former Odeon building into a multi-purpose live events venue, offering a calendar of world class music, comedy and family entertainment, as well as multi-purpose conference and meeting spaces.

The building, which turns 90 years old this month, will be run by Birmingham-based NEC Group, which has made a 30-year commitment to operate the property, bringing its expertise in live events, conferencing and catering to Bradford.

After the Odeon closed its doors in 2000, the building fell into disrepair and was added to the Theatres at Risk register in 2008.

In 2014 the council approved a plan by Bradford Live, a not-for-profit distribution social enterprise, to create a live music venue after inviting developers to submit commercially viable ideas for the building.

An image of the building from the 1930s

Planning permission was granted by Bradford Council’s Development Committee in March 2019.

The project has benefited from significant investment to date, including a £357,500 investment from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) (delivered by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority), a £959,500 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and £4m secured by the LEP from the Government’s Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund.

Updated designs and timelines are set to be shared later this year once the main contractor is appointed, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic meaning the venue is now expected to open in 2022.

Dan Boulger, the project’s mobilisation manager at the NEC Group, said: “Beginning the tender process to find a contractor for the next stage of construction marks an exciting phase in the project, and we look forward to the interest we receive which has already been very positive.

“Bradford Live continues to have the full backing and enthusiasm of the NEC Group, despite a challenging climate for live events currently.”

Lee Craven, founding director of Bradford Live, said: “As with many construction projects across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges which have led to some delays in our timelines.

“However, this time has allowed our design team to work without interruption on the detailed design.

“We have said from the beginning that the former Odeon is a complicated building with many surprises and much hidden heritage.

“We have had to balance these challenges with the needs of a modern performance venue, and I believe we have managed to do just that.  We look forward to sharing the revised plans publicly in the near future.”

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw at Bradford Council said: “Bradford Live is an iconic project for the city of Bradford which is set to bring a wealth of new visitors to the city centre, boosting the economy and providing jobs and opportunities for the whole of our region.

“It continues to have the full support of Bradford Council and we look forward to seeing its progress over this next important phase of the project.”