Developers say there's a 'lack of support' for their £60 million investment into the site.
Plans for the multi-million-pound expansion of an industrial site have been withdrawn, with the developers criticising a “lack of support” for the scheme.
The proposed expansion of Keighley Industrial Park would have seen almost £60 million invested into the site, off Royd Ings Avenue, with new units built and “hundreds” of jobs created.
But now, just a few weeks before a public inquiry into whether to allow the plans was due to be held, the scheme has been withdrawn by applicants PH Holdings.
They say they will re-submit plans, and hope to get more support in the future.
The development has already had a convoluted history, and its location, on a floodplain and partly on greenbelt land, had led to numerous hurdles.
Bradford Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee approved the plans in March 2018, despite the recommendations from planning officers that it be refused.
Shortly after, the Environment Agency raised serious concerns about the scheme, saying the development would cause flood risks further down the River Aire and there would be no way to mitigate this.
The plans went back to the committee for them to re-consider last June, where the Agency raised their concerns the development would lead to flooding further down the river.
But the developers said measures would be put in place to mitigate any flood concerns – these would include constructing the buildings on stilts to allow flood water to pass underneath. They also highlighted how the project would benefit Keighley, with Ian Hayfield telling members: “Keighley has never before seen this level of investment, and it is unlikely to ever again.”
Members voted in favour of the plans, while still acknowledging that they could increase the risk of flooding.
The same day Leeds City Council approved millions of pounds of flood alleviation works.
Because of the sensitive nature of the site, a final decision on whether the development could go ahead had to be made by the Secretary of State.
Leeds City Council wrote to the Secretary of State raising “serious concerns” about the approval and how the development could increase the risk of flooding over the border.
The Secretary of State “called in” the decision, and a public inquiry was planned for August – the result which would have determined whether the project could go ahead.
But in the latest twist the applicants have now withdrawn the application.
“This decision has not been taken lightly, however we had little choice having had the application called in by the Secretary of State four months after councillors at Bradford’s planning committee took the correct decision to agree a motion to approve the application, despite planning officers’ recommendation.
“Since the application has been submitted we have had no end of problems and opposition to the scheme at officer level and little political support, despite the clear economic significance of the scheme to Keighley and the wider Bradford area.
“It was only at planning committee where we were able to gain some support and a favourable motion however then the application was referred to and subsequently called in by the Secretary of State, something completely out of our control. We have then been essentially fighting central government for a positive decision including trying to provide additional mitigation to the Environment Agency at great additional cost to the original scheme. There was simply not enough time to provide this additional solution for it to be considered by the Agency by the start of the planning Inquiry. We asked the Inspectorate for a delay in the Inquiry start however this was swiftly and abruptly denied leaving us with no choice but to withdraw and continue our discussions with the Environment Agency pending the resubmission of the planning application. This was just another example of the lack of support for a scheme of huge economic importance.
“This scheme has been entirely self-funded by the applicants who have in turn sourced tenants for all the proposed industrial units, due to the significant demand in the area. Yet, despite this commendable effort the application has experienced no end of opposition from stakeholders.
“We will be looking to resubmit again shortly and having retained the desire for end users on all units we hope that we will gain more support in the future.”
A Bradford Council spokesperson said:
“We have been notified that the applicants for the proposed commercial scheme comprising industrial and warehouse buildings on land off Royd Ings Avenue, Keighley have now withdrawn their application. A Public Inquiry due to be held in August this year at Bradford City Hall has now be cancelled.”
A Leeds City Council spokesperson said:
“We’re pleased to hear that our concerns have been noted and this application has been withdrawn.
“As we said previously, it’s very rare for us to formally object to a decision made by a neighbouring authority, but we had major concerns about these proposals and their potential flooding impact on our communities.
“It’s particularly relevant on the same day our plans panel has approved the next phase of the flood alleviation scheme for Leeds, which will provide certainty for future developers on the standards of protection that will be required.
“We do appreciate the importance of supporting economic growth and look forward to working with Bradford Council and developers on any future plans.”