Bradford launches bold Northern Powerhouse Rail Growth Strategy

  • Growth Strategy sets out the economic and social opportunity of bringing Northern Powerhouse Rail to Bradford city centre.
  • Key focus on skills and employment opportunities for Britain’s youngest city.
  • Includes ambition to further develop “Southern Gateway” in Bradford city centre.

A bold plan to unlock economic, social and inclusive growth across Bradford and the North has today (12 March) been launched.

Bradford Council has released its Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) Growth Strategy which sets out the ambitions to transform the economy through a new high-speed rail connection in the city centre that will better connect the UK’s youngest city to the opportunities of the future.

With a key focus on skills and education and unlocking growth at the Southern Gateway to the city, the NPR Growth Strategy sets out the opportunities that are being sought as part of the campaign to bring Northern Powerhouse Rail to the whole of the North and specifically to Bradford.

The Strategy covers six key areas:

  • A better-connected Bradford is not just good for the city, it is an opportunity to create a more productive economic system across the whole of the North.
  • NPR in the city centre will act as a catalyst for new residential and commercial development and improved local infrastructure, delivered with a partnership-led approach.
  • NPR is more than just faster, more efficient and frequent trains. It is about connecting people to opportunities, improving skills and building Bradford’s thriving business base after it was named by Barclays as the best place to start a business in 2018.
  • NPR will be most effective if it is seamlessly integrated with HS2 and improved local transport routes. It is not a choice of either or, investment in all three is essential.
  • High speed rail in Bradford city centre has the potential to transform Bradford’s brand, increasing its attractiveness as a place to visit, live, study and invest.
  • Ensuring Bradford has the best environment for growth, demonstrating how the Council and partners are putting in place the right delivery mechanisms, fostering a collaborative approach between the public and private sector and by exploring innovative approaches to funding.

Commenting on the launch of today’s Strategy, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council and Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority said: “Since launching our Next Stop Bradford campaign to bring NPR to Bradford city centre, we have ensured Bradford’s voice is at the heart of the NPR debate. Transport for the North’s recent launch of their Strategic Transport Plan cemented our position on the network with a new line between Leeds and Manchester, via Bradford.

“This strategy is the next phase in our efforts to ensure Bradford is connected to a high-speed rail and it defines the economic opportunity for investors, developers and businesses as well as the opportunities it will bring to people living and working in the District.

“There is already a lot of confidence and momentum in the Bradford economy, not least the recent news that PwC is opening a brand-new Assurance Centre in the heart of the city. We want to build on this momentum and that that is why we have launched this Strategy at the world’s largest property conference, to demonstrate the scale of opportunity and forge a collaborative approach with the private sector to ensure we realise our ambitions.”

The Bradford NPR Growth Strategy has been developed by Arup and in partnership with a number of key transport, economic and placemaking experts including Fore Consulting, Addleshaw Goddard, Cushman and Wakefield and Genecon. It brings together the findings of the extensive evidence base and policy work which has already been developed to support the case for investment. It also sets out the future work Bradford plans to undertake to ensure the city is NPR-ready.

The Strategy builds on economic evidence that was released during MIPIM 2018, which set out how NPR in Bradford city centre could see the North’s economy benefit by up to £15bn in additional GVA by 2060. It also demonstrated that investing in a revamped Bradford Interchange, serving traditional rail and bus services as well as a new east-west high-speed link, could generate up to 15,000 new jobs across Leeds City Region.

The launch comes on the back of a major announcement for the city that PwC will be opening a new 9,000 sq ft Assurance Centre on Godwin Street, with the potential to employ up to 225 people in the city.

Will Richardson, Senior Partner for PwC, said: “As the youngest city in the UK, with strong business growth factors and an entrepreneurial spirit, Bradford is a city with many clear strengths and has a very bright future both on its own and also as part of a strong and vibrant City Region.

“It was these strengths which underpinned our recent investment in Bradford. We’ve already recruited sixty members of staff from the local area and our plan is to grow this team over the coming years to well over 200 and improved high-speed connectivity to Bradford is going to play a vital role in ensuring we have the pipeline of talent our organisation needs.

“The launch of this Strategy is extremely promising for a business such as PwC as it sets out a clear vision for Bradford city centre, with improved connectivity at its core, and we are really looking forward to working with other organisations across Bradford to help the city to thrive over the coming years.”

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and Chair of NP11 is leading the Leeds City Region delegation at MIPIM. He added: “With nearly 25% of Bradford’s population under the age of 16 and a £10bn annual economy, the opportunities that high-speed rail in Bradford will bring go way beyond facts and figures. It will act as the catalyst for inclusive growth that means better jobs, more opportunity and an even better quality of life for the next generation.

“The LEP and West Yorkshire Combined Authority are backing Bradford’s vision set out in this NPR Growth Strategy and we will be working with investors, developers and wider business partners to ensure this is an opportunity we grasp with both hands.”