In a bid to preserve and breathe new life into Bradford’s historic treasures, the city council is delving into plans for a Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) status. Historic England has allocated £50,000 to Bradford Council to formulate comprehensive proposals for the HAZ, focusing on the city centre.

The proposed HAZ area encompasses the iconic City Hall and extends to Kirkgate, Hustlergate, and Market Street. If these proposals are embraced, property owners within the zone will be eligible for grants aimed at rejuvenating empty and underutilised spaces within the city’s heritage buildings that are currently considered “at risk.”

Moreover, the initiative intends to enhance public accessibility to City Hall, allowing more people to marvel at this architectural gem and explore the captivating historical artefacts and photography displayed within.

Collaborating with property owners, developers, and key stakeholders will form a crucial part of the proposal’s development. The council will diligently undertake data collection, analysis, and extensive consultations to determine the most effective ways to provide financial support for making use of vacant or underused floor space within the city’s cherished heritage buildings.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport said: “We welcome the opportunity to work in partnership with Historic England to develop detailed proposals for Heritage Action Zone Status in this historic part of the city centre.

“This is an exciting opportunity to find new and sustainable uses for our historic buildings, as well as potentially enabling improved access to City Hall, our core civic building, celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.”

“The amount of quality heritage buildings here in Bradford is breathtaking. We are looking to the future, with City of Culture 2025 approaching, plus the massive programme of regeneration that will take place in the city, but this is always in harmony with our history”.

Richard Butterfield, Historic England’s Partnerships Team Leader, said, “Bradford City Centre Conservation Area has an impressive array of grand Victorian buildings and a historic street pattern which goes back to the middle ages. This project development funding will enable the heritage to be better understood and inform plans to unlock its potential. We are delighted to be taking this initiative forward with Bradford Council and the City of Culture team.”

Apart from safeguarding the city’s architectural legacy, the HAZ initiative will also explore the integration of cultural events to foster a deeper appreciation of local heritage. By raising awareness of buildings potentially at risk, the project aims to engage the community in preserving these vital pieces of history. Additionally, the scheme will evaluate potential uses for buildings based on current market trends, ensuring their continued relevance and viability.

The council aims to finalise the detailed proposal for the HAZ by February 2024, following thorough planning and meticulous research. This endeavour signifies Bradford’s commitment to preserving its rich heritage while simultaneously embracing a dynamic vision for the future.