The future of one of Denholme’s only employment sites now lies in the hands of Bradford Council.
A retrospective planning application has been submitted for the change of use of the Whitakers Joinery site in Halifax Road into a number of small industrial and retail units. If approved, it could lead to a £100,000 investment in the site.
The village suffered a major blow when the business closed in 2009, making 50 workers unemployed.
With no buyer coming forward for the whole 11,400 sq m site, the building was divided into several smaller units by owners Denholme Storage. These have since been occupied by businesses, including a furniture showroom, lawnmower repair shop, car sales and MOT facility, bike repairs, conservatory manufacturer and steel fabricators. There are 25 people currently working there.
But the changes were never approved by Bradford Council, and in January planners dismissed Denholme Storage’s retrospective application for change of use, describing it as a “wholly unacceptable development in this unsustainable green belt location” and raising the dangers of increased traffic.
In the hope of keeping the businesses open, the company has now submitted another application, saying it has addressed the previous concerns. It has included a travel plan that will encourage employees to walk or cycle to work, or to use public transport.
The newest application states: “The site is some 90 per cent occupied and supports about 25 jobs. Since acquisition by the applicants, £800,000 has been invested in the complex, and with planning permission, a further £100,000 will be invested.”
Pointing to other stalled schemes in the village, the company says: “Until recently, this was one of three major sites in Denholme that was empty or undeveloped. The initiative taken by the applicants has brought this important site back into beneficial use, with investment into the fabric of the building, and offers the opportunity for businesses to operate.
“At any time, this initiative would warrant support from the council, but more so now with the economy flat-lining at best.”
Ward councillor, Simon Cooke, recognises the significance of the site.
He said: “It is important both the applicant and the council work with neighbours so hopefully we can progress with something that provides business benefits but doesn’t do this at the cost of the surrounding area.
“In terms of local employment, it is one of the only sites in town, so it is important we get the balance right.”
With a population of just under 3,000, Denholme has few other employment opportunities, other than at smaller shops and independent businesses.
The council will decide on this latest application in mid-July.