The sounds of the suburbs will find a new home in Bradford should plans to create a John Peel Centre for Creative Arts in the former Odeon building be allowed to go ahead.
The group battling to save the iconic building, currently owned by the Homes and Communities Agency, have released plans which include a venue for major upcoming acts, a museum dedicated to the music scene in the North and a listening room where people will be able to access the archive of John Peel’s record collection.
The plans have the backing of many famous names including BBC radio star Mark Radcliffe and Sheila Ravenscroft, wife of the late John Peel, who has given her personal support. The campaign to save the building was also given a major boost by the support of ‘The Restoration Man’s George Clarke, who said: “I 100 per cent support the Bradford Odeon Campaign. It is a beautiful building.” Other celebrity backers of the campaign to save the building from demolition include Terry Jones, Barbara Windsor and Feeder bassist Taka Hirose.
Bradford West MP George Galloway has written to the Prime Minister asking him to intervene in the plans by developer Langtree to demolish the 1930’s art deco supercinema and build modern offices and apartments on the site. Campaigners discovered a clause in the development agreement which would allow the Homes and Communities Agency to cancel the plans but they have so far refused to do so.
The group behind the plans for a John Peel Centre in the North claim that the potential of their scheme to boost the citys fortunes far exceed what they say is an unwanted and unnecessary planned development. A spokesman for the group said: “To have such a centre, located next to the National Media Museum and overlooking the new City Park, would put Bradford right at the heart of the cultural map of the North of England. We anticipate huge numbers of visitors from all over the world, providing a massive financial boost to the region, and kick starting the regeneration of the whole city centre.”
As to why Bradford is an appropriate place for such a scheme he said: “John Peel had many links to the city, not least as the place where he met his wife, who lived in Saltaire at that time, at a gig in the University of Bradford. He made several TV shows about the underground music scene here and was an early attendee of the city’s 1 in 12 Club, where he would come to seek out new talent. He is also an honorary graduate of the university. Through this project we hope to celebrate the independence, diversity and creativity of the city, and of the North as a whole – values that will always be associated with John Peel.”
The group plans to finance the scheme as a community enterprise meaning that the building and the museum would be held in trust for future generations. Income would be generated by providing a world class venue for major acts and other sources such as the Lottery, the EU and the Arts Council would be approached if the threat of demolition is lifted in order to ensure that the scheme is sustainable in the long term. There would be a strong focus on its use as an educational facility and in continuing the legacy of the late Mr Peel by actively seeking out the next generation of talent from across the North.
For more information visit the official John Peel North website.
To keep up to date with the campaign to save the former Odeon building go to www.cityoffilm.co.uk.