From Keighley News, August 15th, 2019
Written by David Knights
A DESPERATE search has been launched for vacant sites in Keighley to help growing companies prosper. Landowners are being urged to offer derelict land for the building of vitally-needed business and industrial units for new and existing firms. The “call for sites” has been issued by Bradford Council as part of its Local Plan, which will guide future business and housing growth across the district. Keighley MP John Grogan this week backed the call, warning that despite the town having skilled workers companies would go elsewhere if land was not available.
Land that has lain dormant for several years includes the East Parade site of the long-delayed Aire Valley Retail Park and the Asda-owned former George Farrar stone yard in Bradford Street.
Plans are underway to build business units on the former Keighley College annex in Chesham Street, the former Hattersleys site off Church Street, and unused Keighley Cricket Club land.
The council believes there could be other suitable sites for offices, research and development, and manufacturing, and has asked agents, landowners and developers for suggestions.
The aim is to create major new employment sites over the next few years, particularly in north Keighley and the new Business Development Zones in Dalton Lane and Royd Ings.
Under its Local Plan, Bradford Council aims to create 1,600 jobs a year across the district, and find 15 hectares land in Keighley to support manufacturing, media and logistics companies.
A public “call for sites for employment land” began this month. The council will consider suggestions as part of the Local Plan -- although sites would still need to go out to consultation, and any developments would still need planning permission.
MP John Grogan said 15% of Keighley’s workforce was in manufacturing, twice the national average, and they had the necessary skills.
“I have had many discussions with the council and developers both about industrial and retail sites in the district over the last couple of years, and it does take a frustratingly long time to get all the ducks in a row.
“I am more hopeful they never about the progress of discussions on the East Parade site and I am cautiously optimistic a plan will emerge shortly.
“I very much hope that the proposed industrial park off Royd Ings Avenue can be revived following talks between the developer and the Environment Agency.”
He said: “We are pleased the former Keighley College site on Chesham Street is now being redeveloped.
“Planning permission has been granted for two industrial units on one of the plots. Another plot has been sold to a private company that intends to prepare the site for development. The remaining plots are currently on the market.
“The council is working with partners to facilitate the development of the East Parade employment site which will also provide new investment and employment opportunities.”
District councillor Zafar Ali suggested the “white elephant” East Parade site would be ideal for business as an alternative to shops, adding: “There are already a lot of businesses in that area.”
Fellow Keighley Central ward councillor Khadim Hussain said: “There’s a huge shortage so any bits of land that can be found would be much-needed. Keighley’s businesses most grow.”
Cllr Hussain urged developers to return with a better plan for the Royd Ings Avenue business park, that tackled the Environment Agency’s fears of flood risk. He added: “They have to be more pragmatic and look at the benefits of the scheme.”
Craven ward councillor Adrian Naylor said the council faced two main issues with creating jobs - finding suitable sites, and finding large employers willing to set up in the district.
He added: “A lot of landowners offer their sites for housing, as the land is far more valuable as a housing site. People just haven’t been bringing employment sites forward.”
To put a site forward visit bradford.gov.uk/planning-and-building-control/planning-policy/evidence-base/?Folder=Call+for+Sites
People can submit sites until September 24.