AMBITIOUS plans have been revealed to demolish Braithwaite’s ageing community centre and replace it with a new building. Volunteers at the Keith Thompson Centre hope to find cash to construct a new century building on exactly the same footprint as the existing complex. A new layout for the single-storey centre would allow more activities to be held at the same time, while extending the hours of its hugely-popular community cafe. A planning application submitted by Braithwaite People’s Association (BPA) – whose volunteers have run the centre since 1996 – has already received support from local politicians and churches.
The centre, on Coronation Mount, dates back to at least the early 1980s and has timber walls and a flat felt roof. The building is now in serious disrepair, with some timber panels and structural frames rotting.
BPA chairman Maxine Snowball said: “There are big holes in our roof, and children are able to kick through the walls. It’s been patched up repeatedly.
“The new building would be redesigned so we could run several things at the same time. We’d like to extend the cafe times, and have after-school and homework clubs.”
The centre currently hosts weekly groups for under-12’s, teenagers, parents and toddlers, and disabled adults. There is also a Jobs Club.
Bradford Council provides just over £2,000 a year to help with running costs, but most of the income comes from fundraising and the cafe.
BPA treasurer John Philip, one of the founders of the organisation, said the cafe had trained around 40 people to get back into work.
He said that once planning permission was given by Bradford Council, the BPA would seek funding from grant-giving bodies. It would have to make slight changes to its constitution to become a charity or Community Interest Company.
The replacement centre would be built from brick, with a pitched tiled roof and white upvc doors and windows. Existing access from Coronation Mount would be retained, and the car park would be increased from 6 to 14 vehicles.
Keighley town councillor and former BPA chairman Michael Westerman welcomed news of the rebuild plan.
He said: “It shows the group has gone from strength to strength and it’s a credit to the current committee.”
Keighley MP John Grogan said the “rapidly decaying” Keith Thompson Centre was a beacon of hope that provided a focus for community life in Braithwaite.
He added: “A new centre is urgently required for an area of Keighley which has one of the greatest concentrations of people on low incomes in all of Bradford district.”
The Rev Graham Potter, Team Vicar of St Barnabas & Estates, pledged support for the project from Keighley parish.
He said: “The Keith Thompson Centre is the only public building on Braithwaite estate and is a vital community resource which is widely used. A new building will open many new opportunities for community use.”