Activity center with trampolines and mini-golf planned for Bradford department store

ONE of downtown’s most prominent buildings could soon be converted into a family activity center – complete with trampolines, mini-golf and virtual reality.

Grade II listed Sunwin House was built in the 1930s as a co-operative empire, but to recent generations of Bradfordians it will be best known as the old TJ Hughes.

Sunwin House

Most of the art deco building has stood empty since 2011, when the department store left town.

But now a new planning application submitted to Bradford Council would see the ground floor of the building converted into an entertainment venue, targeting families.

Plans also call for a cafe and the repair and restoration of the building.

A separate request calls for new signage on the building, indicating that the company would be called GOAT Gaming.

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Work on the building will include a thorough cleaning of the awning, signage and shutters, removal of graffiti, repair of windows and installation of a CCTV system.

Submitted by Nusra Ali, the application states that they have “purchased into the regeneration of the city”.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Sunwin HouseSunwin House

He adds: “It is planned that the ground floor will be converted from commercial space into a mix of activities including trampoline, indoor golf and virtual reality.

“The underlying theme of the installation will be to improve health and well-being.”

It says the cafe will offer “a healthy alternative to the usual take always in the area”.

He adds: “The building itself has been abandoned for several years and needs to be renovated. It has great potential and by turning it into a multipurpose play facility it will attract people from the city and beyond.

“Diversifying the region as a hub for culture and the arts could improve the city’s reputation and encourage further foreign investment.

“The success of the premises will be in that of the unique and diversified businesses that will be operated there.

“Recent statistics suggest that Bradford has one of the youngest growing populations in the country. However, there is a lack of facilities that accommodate a diverse younger generation.

“We believe the rise of these facilities, particularly in Bradford, is extremely popular among teenagers, students and young professionals.

“Many use similar spaces to meet.

“Changing attitudes in working practices have created a more relaxed and flexible way of working.

“A strong coffee culture has emerged since the easing of the lockdown; with people who now choose to work in bars and cafes.

“The cafe will be at the heart of the building and will serve the needs of the end user and will also cater to the wider community in the region.

“There is a lack of such facilities along Godwin Street and Thornton Road.”

Activities in the renovated building will be aimed at families with children aged 4 to 18.

Designed by WA Johnson of CWS for the City of Bradford Co-operative Society in 1936, the store was built in the International Modernist style and heavily influenced by German architect Erich Mendelsohn.

It was an early and influential example of the open store principle, with elevators and stairs tucked around the edges of the shopping area and it also had the first escalators to be installed anywhere in a Co-op store.

It was Grade II listed in 2006 – five years before TJ Hughes closed.

Located at the prominent junction of Sunbridge Road and Godwin Street, the building retains much of its 1930s grandeur, though its closed ground-floor windows offer desolate views of the city center.

In 2019 PriceWaterhouseCooper moved into the most modern section of the building on Godwin Street, making it their new Bradford hub and creating hundreds of jobs in the city centre.

However, the most important sections of the building have remained empty and have recently been plastered with graffiti.

In 2020 Sunwin House was added to Save Britain’s Heritage ‘at risk’ list of buildings which were at risk of being lost to abandonment.

Last month, the 20th Century Society included it in a list of the best 20th century buildings in the region, saying: “Its unaltered appearance, both outside and inside, is exceedingly rare.”

A decision on the planning application is expected in August.