After a bit of a struggle with the Council they have finally accepted BRAiD’s petition at http://epetition.bradford.public-i.tv/epetition_core/view/bucklane
If we can gather enough signatures this will force the Council to explain their thinking behind the Buck Lane proposals. Incredible as it may seem, and given its importance to the District, Buck Lane has never been debated in full Council.
We started the petition because the Buck Lane proposal is known to be financially precarious. The Council do not have enough money for the enabling works and are proposing to involve the private sector. In principle there is nothing wrong with this, as there was nothing wrong, in principle, with Odsal, the Odeon or Westfield. The fear is that we will have another scheme which fails to deliver its promise and another valuable bit of Bradford destroyed. Bradford is suffering not so much a domino effect as a doughnut effect. A hollow unloved centre with all the Council’s hopes and developers profits pinned to the periphery.
Once the enabling works are complete a developer takes over and supplies 80% of the funding. The Council provides the remaining 20% (about £5 Mio), taking the total public commitment close to £10 Mio. This is a significant amount of money that needs to be properly and responsibly justified. The Council also needs to show that the 723 new jobs they promised will materialise.
The Council did not commission any market research to demonstrate the need for this site. When asked, they simply provide anecdotes. These are always a poor basis for policy. If the demand is not there then we will be left with a highly visible 15 acres of mud doing further reputational damage to Bradford.
The Council have more or less admitted that the only interest in Buck Lane so far has come from a small number of existing firms who want to move away from the City centre. This will add to the dereliction and increase the stock of empty business premises, 3000 at the last count.
The Council are also operating under a false impression that hi tech companies will only work from posh buildings. This is an insidious piece of Developer nonsense. PACE manage in an old factory, software companies just require office space. Laboratories can be set up anywhere these days.
Given all of the above, asking the Council to provide a rigorous justification for this adventure seems entirely reasonable. Planning policies over the last few decades have put Bradford into downward spiral. We are at the wrong end of every national league table, education, jobs, and retail dereliction etc. The answer to these problems is not to brick over what is left of the green periphery, but to address the rot in the centre of our city. Bradford is heading for a Detroit style finale, Schemes such as Buck Lane must be stopped before it is too late.”