A FORMER nightclub could be transformed into a £4.6-million city-centre “resource church” aimed at a burgeoning population of students and office workers.
The diocese of Leeds is seeking planning permission to convert the empty building, which formerly housed the club Vibe, into a “focus point for faith” in Bradford. The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Toby Howarth, said that it would have “a strong Bradford identity: young, entrepreneurial, ethnically and culturally diverse, and confident about holding out a clear religious offer and call in the public space.
“It will have a mandate from the start to grow and send folk out to plant new churches and revitalise existing congregations around the area.”
The new worship centre will be called the Fountains Church, because the site overlooks a set of water features in the Mirror Pool in front of the City Hall, Bradford, itself modelled in part on the Palazzo Vecchio, in Florence. Until planning permission is granted, and the conversion work completed, the church is operating from temporary premises near by, in Glyde House. A decision on the application is expected next month.
The Archdeacon of Bradford, the Ven. Dr Andy Jolley, said: “After an extensive search of properties in the city centre, the former nightclub site in Gyldegate is our clear preference for Fountains Church.
“We are in advanced negotiations with the current leaseholder and Bradford Council about the building, and securing planning permission for the change of use is a key part of the process. We hope and pray it will give spiritual refreshment right in the city centre.”
The Revd Linda Maslen, who heads the project, said: “Fountains Church refers to the wonderful fountains in front of City Hall, but also to ‘fountains of living water’ — one of the ways that God describes himself. And, like water, we want the church to be a blessing to the people of Bradford, bringing life, hope, and love.”
The building occupied by The Vibe — also previously known as Revolution and Tequila — was built in 2002, and designed to match the classical style of the Grade II listed Alhambra Theatre, which opened in 1914, near by. The diocese’s proposals will not alter the stone-and-glass exterior, which the application describes as a “strong visual marker within the city centre”. Funding for the project includes £3.1 million from the Church Commissioners’ Strategic Investment Board, and £1.5 million from local sources, spread over the next six years.
The leader of Bradford Council, Susan Hinchcliffe, said: “It’s great to see the Anglican Church making such a significant investment in the city. Like us, they have faith in the city and what we are creating here. This new investment further enriches the spaces for faith in the city centre, and we gladly welcome it.”