We want our Bramley back! Residents outline vision for future


We want our Bramley back! That’s the message from Bramley residents who have set out their vision for the future of the shopping centre and town street areas.

More than 20 people attended a ‘great debate’ regarding the future of Bramley, which was led by Bramley Elderly Action’s Joanne Hartley and chaired by West Leeds Dispatch editor John Baron.

The discussion was open to anyone in the area to reflect on the changes to Bramley Town Street in the 1970s, to consider the effect this had on the community and to talk about how Bramley centre could be improved in the future.

bramley shopping centre
Bramley Shopping Centre. Photo: Google

The meeting, at Bramley Community Centre, heard how Bramley’s main shopping area used to be full of small, independent shops such as butchers, bakers and shoe shops – but the independent feel was now missing. More than one person suggested the current shopping centre should be pulled down to be ‘started again’.

Suggestions included more independent shops, a larger supermarket, mobile butchers and grocers, setting up more community events to bring people together and new community groups, like Bramley in Bloom.

The great debate

The meeting looked at people’s memories of Bramley in the past, present and encouraged ideas for the future.

Concerns were expressed about anti-social behaviour from some young people and the need for more youth activities – but it wasn’t all doom and gloom, some still said Bramley had a friendly community spirit and that some things had changed for the better.

One attendee said: “Bramley was never pretty to look at, but it was an industrious place, where people worked hard, where trades and factories flourished. It all started to go downhill in the 1970s. It had butchers, bakers and a shoe shop where you could be dress shoes. Lovely greengrocers and fishmongers, but that lack of small independent firms has now led to a lack of independent shops.”

The recent closure of Jack Fultons was lamented by some, as well as the need for more disabled toilets in Bramley Shopping Centre. One person suggested the community ought to club together to buy Bramley Shopping Centre.

Another attendee criticised Bramley for its ‘scruffiness’ and the need for more police presence. Problems with anti-social behaviour from young people, particularly at the back of the centre on an evening, was also raised.

There was also lengthy discussion on the importance of more facilities for young people and how to get them interested in the activities.

Councillor Caroline Gruen (Lab, Branley & Stanningley), who attended the meeting, said the issue wasn’t a lack of youth facilities, it was getting youngsters interested in attending the existing facilities that was the real challenge.

Another attendee blamed the supposed high rents on the lack of small businesses, at the ‘depressing’ brutalist shopping centre which she suggested should be ‘knocked down and started again’.

Replacing old Bramley: Bramley Shopping Centre. Photo: Google

But the changes to Bramley over the years have received some support. One attendee said Bramley wasn’t Chapel Allerton and felt there weren’t enough affluent people to support independent shops, such as cheesemongers.

“I’m not sure that they are viable,” he added. “And it was a good thing to pull down a lot of the old buildings on Town Street in the 70s because a lot of them weren’t fit for habitation. The bank buildings were in excellent condition but it was claimed at the time that they weren’t viable to save.

“Things needed to change. People in 1960s Bramley still had outdoor toilets and they needed to be fit.”

There was praise for community initiatives like the war memorial – and for the peace garden plans being led by young people at the back of Trinity Methodists, as recently reported by WLD.

Another attendee said Bramley’s fortunes needed turning around. She added: “We want our Bramley back.”

The way forward

Ideas included the need for more community events to bring people together and for new groups including setting up a Bramley in Bloom group and a Friendship Society.

It was also suggested that mobile and selling things like fresh fruit could travel around Branley’s streets, selling goods directly to customers.

It was suggested that older BEA members had the experience and local expertise to come up with some of the solutions to the area’s problems.

A follow-up meeting to plan the way forward and discuss how some of these ideas could become a reality will be held in a few months’ time.

What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.


  1. Its always the same people and age groups organising these events. You need to try encouraging younger people to take part in these meetings. Mums dads kids. Also some of the community activities are poorly advertise often within the circle of those holding the event, Joe public needs to know about them to be successful and help the Bramley community to interact with each other
    Just a few ideas
    Local market ( encouraging local small businesses
    Table top sales
    Craft fair
    School uniform swap/sale for quality second hand uniform
    Baby items (same as uniform)
    I could go on forever.
    But everything needs to be well advertised. I personally have missed many local events all because I wasn’t aware

    • Thanks for your comment Deborah, some good ideas in there!
      Bramley Elderly Action held the event at their centre – primarily for older people, as that’s their remit as an organisation – and also put on refreshments on the day. WLD was happy to support this and it proved a lively community event. The event was advertised on the Dispatch, on Facebook (including Memories of Bramley), Twitter and on posters in local community centres. If we do any more of these events we will try to advertise with posters more widely.
      As a community-led publication, WLD is always open for local organisations to advertise their events on here.

  2. Bramley shopping centre is of 20 century and out dated , was built for the repatriation of the quarry hill flat community , Bramley as suffered since , Bramley does not have anything to shout about ,in fact kirkstall, stanningley have more investment than Bramley , flattering shopping centre , close the flats above the centre relocate them ,you got swinnow , kirkstall that can give Bramley residents shopping mean while they rebuild it and get some entertainment area as well , because it crying out for it

  3. Thanks for the reply, just something else to note BEA for all their wonderful work they’ve done and continue to do the title of this organisation puts people off. Although they have been doing much for the community of Bramley over many years, many younger folks think they just help the elderly and aren’t aware of the involvement they have in the wider community. Perhaps it would be an idea to inform the greater community of Bramley of the work they’re involved in and how much they do for the local community. Hopefully this may encourage younger people to join the organisation

  4. I now live in on Halton Moor now and understand your frustration..I was born and raised in Bramley in the mid 60s …I have noticed that in Halton and Crossgates we have a vibe of small coffee/Bars into bistro into the evening and when I travel through to Meanwood on an evening it too has an amazing vibe of the community coming together..I cannot see why Bramley too could do more of this ..

  5. If we could appeal to parents then maybe we could get the youngsters involved. Get them through the doors and ask them what they would like.
    As adults, we all know what we would like to see, greengrocer, butcher, etc. places we all grew up with. I would love to see more colour around Bramley, I think someone commented it was “drab & boring” so starting up ‘Bramley in Bloom’ could be something for the future.
    As adults, we can speak out about what we would like to do moving forward for the future of Bramley, but so too can the kids. So instead of speculating, we ask them. If we could appeal to parents then maybe we could get the youngsters involved. Get them through the doors and ask them ‘what they would like for the future Bramley?’


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