Bosses of an Oakworth factory say Bradford Council’s decision to support the business could secure dozens of jobs during the next decade.
Linear Composites had applied for planning permission to turn an area of land at its Vale Mill, Mytholmes Lane, site into a storage area and space where HGVs could park and manoeuvre. It said the changes would make it easier for HGVs to make deliveries to and from the site, as well as creating up to 16 extra jobs.
The company’s Italian owners, Maccaferri, had told management that if permission was granted, they would extend the firm’s lease at Vale Mills for another ten years. But if it was refused, the owners would likely move the business to another site – possibly even abroad – when the lease came up for renewal at the end of the year.
Despite the threat to the business’s future, planning officers had recommended the application for refusal because it would harm the green belt and went against council policy.
When it came before the Council’s regulatory and appeals committee last Wednesday, an impassioned plea from both the company’s managing director and local councillor, Rebecca Poulsen, convinced councillors to back the plans.
With the site being green belt, communities secretary, Eric Pickles, will have the final say.
Planning officers said the site was in protected green belt, and the company had not done enough to show there were “exceptional circumstances” to show the scheme should go ahead. And there had been objections from people saying the development would spoil views.
But Coun Poulsen said: “The mill has been there for hundreds of years.
“This land is a waste area next to an industrial mill, and they aren’t going to be building on this area.”
Steve Miller, group managing director, said: “This will create 16 full-time jobs, and as a business, we spend £3 million on local suppliers.”
He explained the difficulty for HGVs to access the site, adding: “One alternative to this is we re-locate the business.”
During the debate, Coun Imran Khan pointed to an image of the site on a screen and asked planning officers: “What exactly are we trying to protect here? It looks bloody awful. Let’s not get hung up on the fact this is green belt – to me, that’s just derelict land.”
After the committee voted to support the plans, Mr Miller said: “This secures the future of employment on the site. We are now in a position to sign up another ten-year lease. It’s not over yet because we still need a decision from Eric Pickles, but common sense has prevailed today.”