Delays to starting construction work on Westfield’s shopping centre project in Bradford are decimating the town, according to one of the local MPs.

Westfield Bradford has been put on hold along with the majority of the Australian developer’s projects worldwide as the value of its portfolio tumbles and it comes under increasing pressure.

Demolition works to clear the site in the centre of Bradford started in 2004. Despite an original completion date set for 2007, no work has taken place on site since.

“It’s had a tremendous knock-on for the rest of Bradford,” said Labour MP for Bradford North Terry Rooney. He said shoppers and retailers have been forced out of the town. “People leave Bradford in droves to go to other cities. The city centre’s dead.”

He added that Westfield has “made unmanageable promises” about start dates, “all of which have come and gone to the point that no one believes them”.

He said: “In the meantime we’ve got a 23-acre site slap-bang in the centre of Bradford which is a hole in the ground.”

Westfield has said previously that the work is only on hold temporarily due to “serious dislocations… in global financial markets” and that while no construction would begin in 2009, it would continue to work on predevelopment and lettings.