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Fears Over Keighley Shopping Centre Delays

The proposed Aire Valley shopping centre has been discussed by Bradford Council’s Regeneration and Environment Scrutiny Committee.

A stalled shopping centre in Keighley is in danger of becoming the new Broadway – a committee of Councillors has warned.

The proposed Aire Valley shopping centre was being discussed by Bradford Council’s Regeneration and Environment Scrutiny Committee at a meeting last night. Members were told that problems in the national retail sector had led to certain un-named brands pulling out of the scheme shortly before a new planning application for the site was going to be submitted.

And the Chair of the committee felt the situation evoked the spectre of the long in development Westfield shopping centre site, which was referred to as the “Bradford hole” for almost a decade.

The Aire Valley Shopping Centre was first proposed years ago, and the £30 million scheme would have brought new shops, restaurants and a cinema to Keighley.

Original developers Stainsby Grange cleared much of the large site on East Parade, but was then unable to sign up enough retailers to move ahead with the plan.

U+I purchased the land over two years ago and began talks with big name retailers.

At last night’s meeting Councillors were told that this company had reached the final stage before applying for planning permission for an altered shopping centre, but were then hit by the current High Street crisis. Business that were planned for the centre pulled out, and the company is now working to find new tenants.

Paul North was presenting a report on regeneration projects in Keighley and Shipley when he updated Councillors on the current situation.

He said: “As they were about to submit their plan some of the retailers in question, key names for the centre, pulled out. They are in discussions with other businesses, and Council officers are in discussions on how this site can contribute to the town. If there are ways this site could help improve the town centre, we should explore what they are.

“They still want to progress with this scheme, but dialogue is ongoing.”

He said the majority of the site had been cleared, and was now sat ready for development.

Chair of the committee Councillor Rizwana Jamil (Lab, Bowling and Barkerend) said: “It seems similar to what happened in Bradford with Westfield.”

The Westfield shopping centre proposal – which later became the Broadway, saw a large swathe of the city centre demolished to make way for a multi million pound shopping centre.

However after the recession hit the development stalled, leaving a huge hole in the centre of Bradford for over a decade. The centre finally opened in 2015.

Cllr Jamil added: “The Council was quite pro-active in working with Westfield to try to get that centre up and running. Are we doing the same here? Are any conversations happening with these owners?”

Mr North replied: “We are waiting for them to recover from the shock of the major interests pulling out. They are talking to other businesses but are not at the point where they are able to put an application in yet.”

Councillor Martin Love (Green, Shipley) said; “Are they or the Council looking at other possible uses for the site, such as housing or retail?”
Mr North replied: “Good question. You can’t watch what has happened with this site an not ask about other uses. We’ll have to have further discussions about this site in the future.”

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