Green light for plans to transform Bradford's former Odeon into world class music venue

The former Odeon cinema in Bradford is a step closer to being transformed into a live entertainment and events venue after plans were approved by Bradford Metropolitan District Council.

11 March 2019

Bradford Live, a not-for-profit distribution social enterprise led by local business leaders, has secured permission to begin work that will bring the site back to life, after it has stood vacant for almost 20 years.

The project received a £357,500 investment from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), delivered by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. The grant was part of the Leeds City Region Growth Deal - a £1 billion plus package of Government investment to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.

The LEP also secured £4 million for the project last year from the Government's Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund.

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region LEP, said: "The restoration of the former Odeon cinema will be transformational, not just for this landmark building, but for the people and city of Bradford, and the wider City Region."

"This venue, situated at the heart of the city, will become another iconic string to our City Region's outstanding cultural bow and the positive economic benefits it promises will be welcomed by everyone."

Initial work has already begun to remove additions to the building made in the 1960s and preserve original features from the 1930s.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, said: "We are delighted to see that Bradford Live has now progressed this iconic project to the next stage. The redevelopment of this building will bring new visitors to the city centre and also provide jobs and opportunities for the whole of our region."

The architects, Aedas Arts Team, will now oversee the transformation and plan to install features including an LED screen between the front towers and a small extension to the rear of the building. It is hoped the venue could be open for business in autumn 2020.

Birmingham-based NEC Group will bring their live event expertise to Bradford as the venue operator. The Group has made a 30-year commitment to bring music, comedy, family entertainment and many other live events to the region, with plans for over 200 events annually.

Lee Craven, the founding Director of Bradford Live said: "We are delighted that we can now start the work to give Bradford back a fantastic entertainment venue. It is a tremendous asset to have on board the expertise of the NEC Group on board. Together we will create a world class live event space overlooking City Park for the first time in many years."

Phil Mead, NEC Group Chairman, Arenas and Ticket Factory, said: "We see so much potential in Bradford Live and are excited that the project takes a step closer to becoming a reality following today's positive announcement. We aim to put Bradford back on the map for live entertainment and music, as well as provide a space for communities and businesses to come together to learn, brainstorm, plan or just celebrate."