A DECISION to defer plans for a major Keighley commercial development prompted Bradford Council's Conservative group to accuse the council's Labour leadership of "blockading" efforts to generate employment.

The council's regulatory and appeals committee delayed a vote on whether permission should be granted for the project off Royd Ings Avenue, saying there was not enough information available.

The firm PH Holdings wants to develop nine large commercial buildings on fields between the A629 bypass and the River Aire, north of Keighley Industrial Park.

Following the deferral, Councillor John Pennington, deputy leader of the Conservative Group, said: “I was concerned to learn the council was wishing to refuse permission for the construction of nine commercial units, which would create up to 200 construction jobs during building, with nearer to 300 permanent jobs afterwards.

"The council argues the site is on Green Belt and on a flood plain.

"But a detailed description of the site is, in the council’s own words, 'generally boggy land including, grassland, a watercourse and an ox bow wetland', alongside the existing industrial park. Hardly prime Green Belt.

"It's all well and good Keighley MP John Grogan talking up the £5 million provided to help create new jobs in the area, as if it's his own idea.

"But he doesn't mention the fact that the Conservative Government came up with the idea and provided the money.

"There's little point in the Conservative Government providing these funds, if the Labour council is going to come up with feeble excuses to prevent a truly innovative scheme, with buildings and access roads on stilts, to use a flood plain to create jobs.

“The Government is trying to create jobs for local people, but the council appears to be blockading the doors. It’s so tragic you couldn’t make it up."

A Bradford Council spokesman responded: “The Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee, comprising councillors from all three main parties, deferred a decision so significant concerns could be properly considered.

“Government policy is that floodplains and greenbelts should not be built upon except in exceptional circumstances.

“Concerns about impacts on the floodplain, green belt, wildlife, and public rights of way were raised by the council’s Highways, Drainage and Countryside & Rights of Way departments.

“Objections were also raised by Yorkshire Water and the Environment Agency due to similar concerns.

“It's entirely right that committee members are satisfied they have sufficient information to make informed decisions, and it's up to applicants to provide evidence as to how concerns can be addressed.”

Mr Grogan said: "Cllr Pennington is an experienced councillor and entrepreneur.

"He knows full well that planning officers' reports are not political documents. They are written by professionals then considered by councillors.

"In this case the officers’ recommendation to reject the application was overturned by councillors, who asked them to go back and look again at the application, particularly to examine whether the flood mitigation measures proposed involving building on stilts have worked elsewhere.

"I myself had previously written to the council's chief executive, arguing the application had merit and that the flood mitigation measures proposed were innovative.

"I understand the application is likely to be considered again in March which I think is a reasonable timetable.

"In my letter to the chief executive I also argued that Keighley had a shortage of industrial land. I received a detailed reply on measures the council is taking to address this, which I'm making available to the Keighley News."