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Keighley is ‘like living in a museum', says councillor
Keighley needs to focus less on becoming a museum and more on regenerating its businesses, a committee discussing the town’s heritage has claimed.
Bradford Council held a consultation during the summer into the Keighley Conservation Area, which includes much of North Street and sites around Keighley Shared Church.
The reassessment will decide which town buildings should be protected, and what types of development are allowed.
Bradford Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee discussed the appraisal at a meeting last Thursday, and while members were happy the town’s heritage was being protected, they feared it could hold it back from future growth.
They were told about efforts to restore the frontage of 19th century buildings in North Street, as well as the recent relaying of traditional stones in Church Street.
Councillor Keith Dredge, who represents the town, said: “The important thing about Keighley was never its buildings – it was the people.
“North Street is now full of empty shops and ‘To Let’ boards. If we protect too much of the town, we could be preventing the type of development we need.
“I’m worried we are leaning a bit too much towards nostalgia – what will make Keighley vibrant is putting businesses back into it.
“We can fix up the buildings, but they are still just a nice facade on the front of a charity shop and a couple of bedsits. Any preservation of the town will depend on economic regeneration.”
Coun Roger L’Amie said: “Every building is built because someone thinks it is a good idea, but what is a good idea in 1860 might not be a good idea now.”
He added: “No-one complains about the glass pyramid at the front of the Louvre. I don’t want to live in a museum, and I don’t think the people of Keighley do.”
Coun Doreen Lee, who also represents Keighley, said: “North Street has turned into an absolute disaster – it is not even nice to drive through. You just have charity shops, estate agents and empty shops. You’ve got your work cut out to fix it.”
Coun Imran Khan said: “Are our generation going to have any heritage preserved? No, because we’re too busy preserving the past.”
Their comments were noted, and the final document will go before the council’s Keighley Area Committee for approval.
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