ONE of Keighley's biggest eyesores could finally be demolished, it has been revealed this week.

And if Keighley College’s former flagship building is razed to the ground, it could spark one of the biggest regeneration phases in the town's history.

This is the claim of former Bradford Lord Mayor Councillor Khadim Hussain, who claims replacement of the ugly North Street structure with a £19 million one-stop shop for local services will have a host of positive spin-off effects for the town's economy.

He said: “It will help with the ‘face’ of Keighley.

"To have a building derelict in the heart of Keighley is not a good advertisement.”

Cllr Hussain, who represents Keighley Central ward on Bradford Council, spoke after the local authority this week revealed an application for planning permission to knock down the four-storey structure at the junction of Cavendish Street is being prepared.

And his views were echoed by current Keighley Mayor, Cllr Javaid Akhtar, and Keighley BID vice-chairman, Graham Benn.

Mr Benn said: “To be honest, what we want is for something to happen – we need action.

"The building has stood empty for several years.

“If the council does decide to knock it down, it would be a nice spot to put a car park while we’re waiting for it to be used for new building.”

Cllr Akhtar said: “I’ve got good memories of the college and will be sad to see it demolished, but if that’s the only way to get a long-term solution, then we have to do it.

“But Bradford Council has to be aware there are already places in the town centre with empty spaces that can also be utilised, like the town hall, Civic Centre and Central Hall.”

Three months ago, the council’s ruling executive voted to replace the derelict structure with a new £19 million ‘hub’ to house several public sector organisations. But demolition is now favoured above renovation of the existing building.

The local authority and at least four other bodies – as yet unnamed – would provide frontline services to the public on the ground floor, with ‘back office’ staff on the floors above.

The council says buildings vacated by the organisations could then be sold, generating income and freeing-up much-needed space for more employers to move into prime town centre properties.

Cllr Hussain, who is also Keighley Area Committee chairman, added: “There needs to be in adequate provision for businesses to expand – we need to see how much space this one-stop shop will free up.

“Also, by bringing the public into Keighley, it would ultimately help businesses by increasing footfall. These people would use the nearby shops.”

Zafar Ali, the third Keighley Central councillor and a former Keighley College student, said he would also miss the building, but wanted the site to be used by the community.

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