Plans to redevelop Bradford’s former Odeon cinema have been approved by Bradford Metropolitan District Council.
Bradford Live, a social enterprise led by local business leaders, has secured permission to begin work on the site, which will become a live music and arts venue after almost 20 years of dereliction.
The enterprise hopes to reinstate the original huge auditorium, creating the biggest ‘mid-size’ venue in the country outside London, with a capacity of up to 4000 with stalls standing.
They hope the venue will bring national and international performers to Bradford and its flexibility will also allow sporting events, exhibitions and conferences.
The project received a £357,500 investment from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), delivered by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. The Leeds City Region LEP secured £4m for the project last year from the government’s Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund.
Initial work has already begun to remove additions to the building made in the 1960s and preserve original features from the 1930s.
The Birmingham-based NEC Group will manage the venue, which is set to open in Autumn 2020.
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.’
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.’
In related news, Bradford’s Grade II listed St. George’s Hall re-opened to the public last month after a £9m refurbishment, funded by Bradford Council and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.