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About Bradford District

Overview

Bradford is the UK’s youngest city, one of its biggest and among its most diverse. Home to 547,000 people, 16,600 businesses and a £12bn economy, It’s alive with energy, enterprise and ambition. The District’s unrivalled potential for growth has seen it named as the UK’s number one levelling up opportunity.

Bradford has long welcomed people from across the world creating a unique fusion of shared Yorkshire heritage and international influences with over 150 languages spoken here.

The district brings together city, suburbs and towns such as Keighley, Shipley, Bingley and Ilkley each with strong identities. Urban, bustling, streetwise, with award winning public realm, yet two-thirds rural with beautiful landscapes, and open spaces on the doorstep Bradford District offers exceptional quality of life.

Globally connected at the heart of the North, Bradford’s assets include entrepreneurial businesses and a strong manufacturing base; innovative public services; a vibrant voluntary and community sector and a University at the forefront of thinking on the circular economy and business leadership. A powerful data and analytics offer includes Born in Bradford’s unique evidence base on the well-being of families and Bradford Council recently attracted £4.7m investment for research into health outcomes.

Bradford will be UK City of Culture 2025 and an ambitious pipeline of projects are in progress that are designed to unleash the District’s potential and establish it as a national leader on clean growth.

Economy

The District’s £12bn economy is the 10th biggest among English cities.  Barclays Best Place to start a business, PWC’s Most Improved City for Good Growth and a place among the Sunday Times’ Best Places to Do Business are among the accolades that Bradford has earned in recent years.

Global connections are reflected in Bradford’s status as a top UK exporter while high business start-up rates signal a powerful entrepreneurial culture.

With 16,600 businesses generating a £30bn turnover and a working age population of 339,000 Bradford’s strengths include advanced manufacturing, chemicals, finance, automotive components and health innovation. Above average concentrations of high-value production businesses and employees across food manufacturing, engineering, chemicals, digital technologies, energy and utilities are located here.

Bradford is home to the headquarters of grocery giant Morrison’s, Yorkshire Water, Yorkshire Building Society and Yorkshire’s largest family owned company JCT600. PWC the internationally renowned professional services network unveiled its new national assurance centre in Bradford in 2019 occupying 9000sq.ft of office space

As a leading member of West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) Bradford is part of a  £1.8bn regional devolution deal – the biggest to date- supporting investment in transport, skills, housing and the shift to net zero.

A pipeline of transformational regeneration projects includes Bradford Live a new 4,000 capacity venue in the former Bradford Odeon; One City Park – Grade A city centre office space and a new £21m food market.

The Southern Gateway, a 126ha site to the south of the city centre is a potential development site three times the size of Canary Wharf offering opportunities for the delivery of a new city centre station, new homes and commercial and industrial space. A high speed through station could unlock £30bn growth.

Outside the city centre, Keighley and Shipley will benefit from up to £33m and £25m respectively in Towns Fund supporting local regeneration.

Bradford aims to be the premier location for clean growth. It has the first Clean Air Zone in the North and plans have been approved for a 32 acre site for sustainable homes and businesses at Yorkshire Water’s Esholt site. Meanwhile progress is being made on bringing what will be one of the biggest hydrogen power plants in the country into operation by 2025.

A dynamic cultural sector is at the heart of Bradford’s vision for social and economic inclusion. The District has a proud cultural heritage and an eye-catching and fertile contemporary offer, with world class exponents of literature, film, music, art and cuisine. City of Culture 2025 will deliver significant economic benefits including job creation, building new skills and attracting over a million visitors.

Culture, Leisure and Sport

Home to Hockney and the Brontes, the world’s first UNESCO City of Film, the country’s most inclusive literature festival, and the serial winner of Curry Capital, Bradford District is synonymous with a vibrant and diverse cultural offer.

“A city like no other fizzing with ambition and energy” was Arts Council Chief Executive Darren Henley’s verdict as he announced record levels of funding for local organisations in 2022. They included intercultural arts hub Kala Sangam, Commonwealth theatre a creative city centre space, Bradford and Ilkley Literature Festivals and Mind the Gap, a leading theatre company for people with disabilities.

The District has a growing reputation as a place to be among film-makers and TV companies who have flocked here to shoot dramas like Peaky Blinders, Ackley Bridge, National Treasure and The ABC Murders. The corridors of power in Bradford’s listed City Hall are regularly used to film scenes for Coronation Street and Emmerdale while the streets of Little Germany have acted as the backdrop to productions ranging from All Creatures Great and Small to The Crown. Elsewhere, the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, home of The Railway Children, continues to attract film-makers and visitors alike.

The impact of UNESCO City of Film continues to grow including an office in Qingdao, China home to one of the biggest studios in the world that will help to drive investment opportunities.

Bradford is home to the National Science and Media Museum, the country’s largest visitor attraction dedicated to the science and culture of image and sound technologies. Other destination events across the District each year include Bradford Literature Festival and Bradford Dragon Boat Festival.

The magnificent Alhambra Theatre  attracts top class productions. It’s sister concert hall, St George’s Hall, reopened in 2019 after extensive refurbishment and, alongside the transformation of Bradford Live, this places Bradford firmly on the UK tour itinerary for some of the world’s best bands.

Culture and history rub shoulders at Bradford Industrial Museum, the Brontë Parsonage in Haworth, Cliffe Castle Museum in Keighley, and nearby East Riddlesden Hall.

Saltaire, one of only two UNESCO world heritage sites in Yorkshire, showcases the District’s industrial and built heritage while housing the works of David Hockney and offering independent shopping in iconic Salts Mill. Bingley’s Five-Rise Locks is the most spectacular feature of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Cartwright Hall hosts a free permanent gallery dedicated to the life and work of David Hockney including a collection of his sketches, paintings, iPad drawings, prints and photographs.

Award winning City Park is a public space whose Mirror Pool is the UK’s largest urban water feature; a beautifully lit fountain and laser display; and a thunderous 100ft water jet. The park hosts an events programme and the Impressions Gallery  a leading independent venue for contemporary photography. Close by in the city centre our range of retail offer goes from the older and smaller Sunbridge Wells underground complex to the modern, large and bright Broadway shopping centre.

For fresh air and the great outdoors look no further; the District is home to rugged, expansive landscapes including world famous Ilkley Moor, around fifteen miles of the Leeds Liverpool Canal, St Ives Country Park and no fewer than six green flag parks.

A thriving sporting scene includes professional football and rugby league, a vast array of amateur organisations and one of the country’s strongest cricket leagues. Park Avenue Cricket Ground has seen significant investment and is spearheading the involvement of women and disabled people in the sport. The District has a reputation as a cycling hotbed following its role in the 2014 Tour De France and subsequent Tours De Yorkshire with spectacular hill climbs along Haworth’s famous main street. The  UCI World Road Championships visited the district in 2019; the Women’s race started in Bradford city centre and the Men’s passed through Ilkley.

Location

Bradford is located at the centre of the UK, with the M606, a spur off the M62 motorway, connecting it to the national motorway network. It has direct rail connections to London, and Leeds Bradford Airport is just six miles from the city centre.