Darley Street in Bradford was once the heartbeat of the city centre. Shopping sprees to shops like Top Man, Dorothy Perkins, Marks & Spencer, Next, Burtons, Phones 4 U, and many more were regularly visited by shoppers on a daily basis making it the busiest shopping destination for Bradford residents.
Today, in contrast, walking on Darley Street is a pretty depressing affair. More than 90% of the shops are now closed and the once beautiful architecture is plagued by a sea of ‘To Let’ and ‘For Sale’ signs.
Last month, new research showed that more chain shops closed in Bradford than anywhere else in Yorkshire last year. The opening of the Broadway Shopping Centre, has [as predicted] taken all the trade to the bottom of the centre, leaving the middle looking like a ghost town.
The city centre suffered a net loss of 17 shops in the first full year since the opening of The Broadway – the sixth worst decline in Britain – according to an annual report measuring the health of British high streets.
Bradford Council has now announced the closure of the Oastler Shopping Centre in an attempt to convert the old Marks & Spencer building into a similar market to bridge the gap between the top and the bottom of the centre. The Kirkgate Centre is also in a bad state and has looked tired for many years.
The KFC branch in Tyrrell Street and the unit shared by Dorothy Perkins, Evans and Burtons in Darley Street were some of the more prominent retailers to shut their doors last year. This year, Footlocker also closed its doors.
One has to put the blame on the past and present Council bosses who have allowed this gradual decline to happen. In saying that, the city has never fully recovered from the two riots that took place in 1995 and 2001. Businesses are still thinking twice when considering opening up in the city.
Another major problem is Leeds. It’s far too easy for us to hop on a train and within 20 minutes be spoilt for choice in Leeds’ bustling and dynamic city centre. Bradford will never be a Leeds and should never aspire to be because it will never happen.
It appears that the current council leaders are looking at tackling this desperate situation that appears to be rotting away in the city centre. It just seems that it is a little too late in the day. RIP Darley Street!