URGENT talks are being sought after a developer revealed it had withdrawn plans to build a multi-million pound industrial park in Keighley.

PH Holdings was seeking approval for nine new units, in a £60 million scheme which promised hundreds of jobs.

But this week the company confirmed it had retracted its application, blaming a shortage of support.

Its decision comes just weeks before a public inquiry was due to start into the scheme, earmarked for a site off Royd Ings Avenue.

Shocked community figures, who say there is a desperate need more industrial space in the town, are pressing for talks in a bid to resurrect the project.

Bradford Council’s regulatory and appeals committee approved the plans last year, despite the site being on a floodplain and partially green belt.

The Environment Agency and Leeds City Council both raised concerns that flood risks would be increased further down the River Aire, despite the applicants putting forward an innovative design to build the units on stilts.

A ruling to ‘call in’ the application was made by the Secretary of State, and an inquiry was scheduled for August.

“I’m shocked to learn the application has now been withdrawn,” said Keighley Central independent councillor, Khadim Hussain.

“It was quite a challenging project, but the developer had put measures in place to mitigate the flooding risks.

“This scheme is crucial for Keighley.

“As far back as 2016, I attended a business-community meeting at Keighley College and there was an outcry then about the lack of space for industrial expansion in the town. If Keighley is to survive economically, business development is key and schemes such as this are essential.

“We should be encouraging this type of initiative and I’ll be seeking talks with the applicant to see what can be done.”

Fellow Keighley Central councillor, Conservative member Zafar Ali, also voices concerns.

“I’m very disappointed at the news,” he said.

“We need more investment in Keighley – the town is being left behind.

“It’s crucial that business is given the support it needs to expand. I hope a resolution can be found for the sake of the town.”

PH Holdings said the decision to withdraw the application had not been taken lightly.

It added that it was continuing talks with the Environment Agency with a view to resubmitting plans.

“We have had no end of problems and opposition – despite the clear economic significance of the scheme to Keighley and the wider Bradford area,” said a spokesman.

“It was only at planning committee were we able to gain some support and a favourable motion, but then the application was called in by the Secretary of State.

“We have then been essentially fighting central government for a positive decision, including trying to provide additional mitigation to the Environment Agency at great additional cost .

“There was simply not enough time to provide this additional information for it to be considered by the agency by the start of the planning inquiry.

“We asked the Inspectorate for a delay in the inquiry start, however this was swiftly and abruptly denied leaving us with no choice but to withdraw and continue our discussions with the agency.

“This scheme has been entirely self-funded by the applicants and we have sourced tenants for all the proposed industrial units. Yet despite this commendable effort, the application has experienced no end of opposition from stakeholders. We will be looking to resubmit and hope to gain more support in the future.”

Keighley MP John Grogan says he hopes agreement can be reached.

He added: “In granting the original planning permission, Bradford Council was obviously convinced by the developer’s argument that because of the innovative use of stilts and voids there would be no impact on water levels further down the River Aire. Such technology has been used successfully in Holland and I myself am impressed with it.

“Leeds City Council is very sensitive to flooding issues because of the impact of the Boxing Day floods on the city centre a few years ago and lobbied hard for the application to be called in by the minister.

“I hope now though, by effectively going back to square one, the developers and the Environment Agency – which has been somewhat inconsistent with its advice on this issue – can reach agreement on a scheme and mitigation measures which they both feel do not increase flooding risks.

“Lack of industrial space remains one of the biggest constraints on economic growth in Keighley and needs to be addressed.”

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “Since the application was called in by the Secretary of State, we have continued to work with the applicant on an alternative proposal in the hope that it could be resolved before the public inquiry date in August. As this was looking unlikely, the applicant took the decision to withdraw the application.

“We will continue to work with the applicant on a revised proposal.”