20 November 2019

Dare to be Different

In the summer of 1999 Bradford Congress, a group consisting of Bradford Council and others, asked for ideas for 20/20 Vision, a document they were putting together to set out the strategy for the next 20 years. It would be a blueprint for the future of the city and the towns and villages that make up the Bradford District, a long term visionary plan that would all come to fruition by 2020.
A small group of us from the 1 in 12 Club's Publications Collective submitted our vision which is printed below. As 2020 approaches I'll leave it to you to decide how much has been achieved and by whom.

Dare to be Different
Imagine a small, stone built city centre surrounded by the most beautiful countryside in England.
Ugly 1960's concrete buildings have been re-faced in local stone, the city centre is car free. There are regular bus and train links with the surrounding towns and villages. Bus services within the city are free and are based on small vehicles operating on routes that follow a spiders web pattern, both radiating out of the centre and surrounding the centre in concentric circles. It is simple to move around the city by hopping from one bus to another.

The Bradford Canal has been re-opened linking the centre to Shipley and Saltaire. The canal is regularly used for transport and leisure by local people and by visitors. Shops, cafes and houses overlook the canal as they do in Shipley and Saltaire. There are well used cycle and walking paths along the canal.

Trams run along Manningham Lane between Saltaire and the city centre and between the centre and the Industrial Museum. There is a link to Manningham Mills. The trams are used for transport by local people and also provide an attraction for tourists.

There is a thriving tourist industry, which celebrates Bradford's industrial heritage. Attractions include guided heritage walks in Saltaire and the city centre, the tram and canal rides between sites and links with surrounding towns and villages. Other attractions such as the Photographic and Colour Museums are popular and well known.

Bradford is known nationally and internationally for its thriving food economy.
The city centre is dominated by Britain's largest local food market housed in a beautifully renovated Market Hall.
Ingredients and specialities are available for the wide range of cultures which make up Bradford. There is a special emphasis on local produce and a thriving organic sector.
Around this has grown up a wealth of successful cafes and restaurants celebrating every type of food and drink. There are specialist food shops, cookery book shops, kitchen equipment shops and producers of raw materials and ingredients. Manufacturing has regenerated with the demand for catering and food production equipment.
Farmers and growers from the surrounding areas supply both the public (directly through the market) and the shops, cafes, restaurants and food processors. The availability of fresh, locally produced food and the awareness of its importance has had enormous benefits in the health of Bradfordians.

The business community is independent and self sustaining. Jobs have been created and business opportunities opened up by the exciting and unique eating and shopping experiences.
The city celebrates creative "do-it-yourself" cultures, enterprises and voluntary activities. Independent film, television, music and internet companies all contribute to the reputation Bradford has for being a place where people make things happen for themselves.
The local economy creates local wealth for local people and communities are supported as they create their own opportunities. There is a thriving Arts scene. Bradford Festival continues to flourish. Manningham Mills has been renovated and now houses a theatre, cafe, music and art studios, a range of arts and crafts businesses as well as flats and houses. Green spaces flourish and are protected. There is a moratorium on building on green field sites.
The city is clean and litter free. Public safety is managed by making the city well lit, easily served by public transport and essentially busy. Every available space above shops and offices in the city centre has been turned into apartments so that Bradford is truly a place to live, work and play. Surrounding the centre housing is of good quality, built in small groups not sprawling estates. Old housing stock has been replaced by attractive energy efficient homes with gardens, all with safe play spaces, shops, medical centres, schools and community centres all close by.
Local government is decentralised with the towns and villages surrounding the city being run independently.

All of this is possible. Every idea suggested here builds on a strength our city has already - its cultural diversity, its industrial heritage, the reputation of the Curry Capital, Saltaire's regeneration, the oldest Organic Show in the country, the great achievement of the Local Produce Markets, etc. etc. We are unique - geographically, culturally, historically and we should value our uniqueness not try to ape other cities. Congratulate Leeds on its successes but let it keep them. We don't need to open shopping centres, hotels or conference centres - they are all a short train journey away. Instead we should be celebrating our differences and creating our own identity.