THE REJECTION of plans to build a new supermarket in Silsden has divided local politicians, residents and businesses.

The decision by Bradford-based councillors has delighted 800 petitioners who claimed the superstore would badly hit existing Silsden shops.

But one local councillor claims hundreds of others had spoken in favour of the project’s potential to improve traffic, housing, jobs and consumer choice in the town.

Bradford’s Regulatory and Appeals committee met yesterday (April 2) at City Hall to decide the multi-million pound planning application from developers Silvermantle for a supermarket, petrol station and car park on the former Becks Mill site off Keighley Road.

The development would have seen new all-weather pitches for Silsden sports clubs, and an access road which could also have opened up much-needed housing land behind the store.

Money from Silvermantle would have helped fund a new cycle and foot bridge across the busy A624 Aire Valley Road, and traffic improvements on both congested Keighley Road and the busy Kirkgate/Clog Bridge/Elliott Street bridge junction.

Protesters, led by Silsden women Wendy Neville, had feared the new supermarket would badly affect existing Silsden businesses including the Co-op minimarket.

District and town councillors Adrian Naylor and Chris Atkinson spoke at the meeting against the plan.

Cllr Naylor said: “The plan was turned down because of the adverse effect on the vitality of the town centre. The report specifically said the supermarket would have a major effect on the Co-op and the retail in the town centre.”

Fellow district councillor Andrew Mallinson, who spoke in favour of the plan, said it would have improved traffic conditions on Keighley Road, with new signalised junctions, as well as freeing up land for at least 150 houses.

He said: “I had contacted over 600 people including businesses, and the majority were in favour of the store because it tidied up land that had been an eyesore for many years.

“This would have brought over 100 new jobs to Silsden and given lots more choice for residents to purchase goods.”

Cllr Mallinson said that as a result the majority of future housing development, to fulfil the requirement for 1,200 new homes in Silsden over the next few years, would be on the other side of the town, increasing pressure on local roads.

Mrs Neville said she was pleased that the concerns of the 800 petitioners had been taken into account by councillors.

She added: “Something needs to be done about the site. It’s an eyesore and it can’t just be left there. The owner should be encouraged to request the land be considered as a possible site for housing.”