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Great Britain

Secretary of State 'calls in' plans for Keighley Industrial Estate

A PLAN for a multi million pound industrial development in Keighley has been “called in” to be decided by the Secretary of State.

Earlier this year a Bradford Council planning panel went against the recommendations of their own officers and the Environment Agency to approve plans to build an extension to Keighley Industrial Park on Royd Ings Avenue, next to the River Aire.

Experts had warned of the dangers of building on a flood plain, claiming it could create a higher risk of floods further down the river.

But members of the Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee went against that advice and chose to approve the plans, saying it would bring much needed investment and jobs to Keighley.

Because the application is on a flood plain it had to be referred to the Secretary of State, who would make a final decision on whether the plan could go ahead.

This week the Secretary of State’s office confirmed they have “called the decision in” - meaning the plans will be looked at again, and Bradford Council’s decision could be overturned by the government.

No date has been given for the final decision, or even the next stage, other than a brief statement from the office that “a decision will be made in due course.”

Applicants PH Holdings have said the expansion, made up of nine new commercial units, will create hundreds of jobs and bring up to £60 million of investment to Keighley, making it one of the biggest projects in the town’s recent history.

They are confident the plans will still go ahead, despite the call in.

Sam Dewar from DPA Planning, who have been acting on behalf of the applicant, said: “Whilst the application has been referred to the Secretary of State for a final decision this is not unexpected for a site of this size and indeed common practice.

“We are respectful of the planning process and the complexities of dealing with such an important employment scheme such as this.

“We remain confident that the correct decision by the council has been made having taken into consideration the significant benefits which will be brought to the town and the application will make a significant contribution to Bradford’s place within the Leeds City Region.

“The planning balance is clear and having taken into account the Local Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework the application is clearly acceptable.”

When the application was being discussed by Bradford Council, the Environment Agency had argued that building on a flood plain would increase the risk of flooding further downriver, including Shipley, Bingley and Leeds.

But the developers said the expansion would have several features to alleviate flood risk, with some of the buildings built on stilts allowing the site to store flood water.

And councillors agreed with the developers, saying it would have “clear benefits” for the people of Keighley that override any other concerns.

After the plans were approved, Leeds City Council Chief Executive Tom Riordan wrote to the Secretary of State James Brokenshire asking them to call the decision in, saying Leeds Council had “fundamental concerns regarding the impact of this development upon managing flood risk in Leeds and the costs and other implications that could arise should it occur.”

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