Has the building been saved?
Yes, for the moment. The previous plans for Langtree to demolish the Odeon to replace it with offices and a hotel have been scrapped.
Why did this happen?
The plan failed because the Homes and Communities Agency (the owners of the building) lost patience with Langtree, who were trying to take far longer to begin their scheme than their contract allowed, and the HCA terminated the agreement.
The developer may have been granted a few more years to try and market their scheme, however, had it not been for the work of two key campaigns.
- The first is the campaign by the former Bradford Odeon Rescue Group, a members group of seven people, which was set up at the request of Councillor Val Slater ten years ago to work together and with Bradford Council and the then Bradford Centre Regeneration for a time to discuss the Odeon. At the end of this time they then continued to lobby independently against demolition, gathering information, and producing the Odeon Observer paper for many years.
- The second is a wider public campaign which began in 2009, when individuals from around Bradford involved in community, cultural and creative projects began to collaborate to organise protest events and to campaign online, as well as gathering celebrity support. With the knowledge gained by the Bradford Odeon Rescue Group, the Bradford public were able to create a popular campaign with far-reaching input, in which anyone could get involved. This very website came from that popular campaign when it gathered pace around the time of the City Park opening this spring, and other campaigners also took to Twitter, Facebook, and hit the streets with posters, petitions, 3D glasses, stickers, projectors and banners. It truly has been a huge community effort which has not gone unnoticed.
We have no doubt that the pressure of these two campaigns showed the Homes and Communities Agency just how much the Odeon means to Bradford, and everyone who had input into the campaign can be credited with its success.
Now the issue of ownership of the building must be resolved.
One suggested option is to take advantage of the new Community Right to Bid, under the Localism Act – a new act which brings significant new opportunities to communities who
wish to own buildings in their neighbourhoods. There is money set aside to test this new legislation, and to help communities to have a real say in buildings they feel are of community value.
As part of the ongoing wider public campaign, we would like to see this Right to Bid pioneered in Bradford, with this beloved building, to ensure that the people who fought for it are the people who get to own it and guide its regeneration.
How will this work?
By creating a cross-community, cross-party structure to which the building can be passed, the community will have access to funds from Central Government to help with things like feasibility studies and other costs associated with the restoration of the building.
By creating this cross-community and cross-party group, you will also have the chance to feed into what the building becomes, as well as to know that the building will never again fall into the hands of private developers for this situation to be repeated.
By bringing together key partners around Bradford who have an interest in the city’s cultural regeneration, it is possible to create something truly special for Bradford’s cultural quarter, which will draw visitors, educate young people, and bring creative businesses to Bradford.
What about private developers?
Private developers are always an option, and the more available options for the building the better.