Theatres Trust Welcomes Odeon Plans

The city centre building has been empty for almost 20 years.

A group dedicated to protecting the country’s theatres says the refurbishment of the former Odeon will have “tremendous benefits” for Bradford.

The city centre building, which has been empty for almost 20 years, is currently on the Theatres Trust’s 'Theatres At Risk' register.

The group says it is "delighted" that plans to re-open the building as a live music venue have been submitted to Bradford Council, describing it as a "landmark building of historical and cultural significance."

Many generations of those living in Bradford have fond memories of the Odeon as a music venue, which hosted concerts by The Beatles, and later as one of the area’s biggest cinemas.

But younger generations will only remember the building as ever being an unused, grand but empty landmark on the city’s skyline.

The plans by Bradford Live to turn the building into a live music venue date back a number of years, and last year they announced they would be partnering with the NEC group to create a 3,800 seat venue.

The redevelopment is expected to cost £22.7 million, start this summer and be completed by Autumn 2020.

Last month a planning application for the full refurbishment of the building was submitted to Bradford Council, and the Theatres Trust has written to the Council to give the plans their backing.

Their letter to the Council says: "The Trust is delighted to see the former Odeon, also previously known as the New Victoria, being restored back to active use as a sustainable and viable venue for live performance."

"It was one of the country’s lagest and most impressive cinemas occupying a prominent site.

"Its significance arises not just from its built form, setting and heritage, but also from local people’s attachment to it as previously the largest venue in the North which hosted many of the biggest names in music, and as a venue for dance, cinema and other entertainment which brought the community together.

"The restoration and revitalisation of the Odeon for live performance will therefore have tremendous benefits for Bradford.

"It will enhance the environment, setting and townscape of Centenary Square through completion of its encircling with a clustering of neighbouring civic and cultural uses.

"It is likely to be a catalyst for wider improvement within the town centre through attracting people to Bradford, which will boost the footfall to other businesses.

"We consider it to represent a sensitive restoration of the building."

The only criticism of the plans is that the Trust believes there should be better wheelchair access in the venue.

A decision on the application is expected in March.

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