PLANS to bring a long-empty former hotel back into use have been welcomed.

A scheme has been put forward to transform the Victoria Hotel building – in Cavendish Street, Keighley – into shops and apartments.

Four retail units would be created on the ground floor and 11 apartments above.

Two of the shops would face onto Cavendish Street and the other two onto East Parade.

The prominent building has been disused for years and there have been countless calls for action as its condition has continued to deteriorate.

Various schemes have been proposed in the past, including one for shops and flats, but none have come to fruition.

The company behind the latest venture is Suffolk-based developer RJF Properties Ltd, which has submitted a planning application to Bradford Council.

Keighley Central councillor Zafar Ali said the scheme could breathe "much-needed new life" into Cavendish Street.

"It is one of the most prominent streets in the town and used to be very busy but even before lockdown it seemed to have become a bit of a forgotten area," he said.

"A number of shops have been lost and it is a shadow of what it was in its golden days.

"Hopefully by bringing back some small businesses that in turn will attract more people to that part of the town and will help regenerate it."

Councillor Khadim Hussain, who also represents Keighley Central ward on Bradford Council, says the former hotel is outstanding architecturally but that the building has become an eyesore.

"It needs to be brought back into use and this application is positive news," he added.

"The scheme would be good for that area of Keighley.

"I was disappointed that the plan for the new Aldi store on the nearby East Parade site was deferred and not approved.

"I was very supportive of that scheme, which would regenerate another long-disused area. But I remain hopeful that it will receive approval once it comes back before the council.

"Together, the two schemes would help transform that part of the town."

Paul Howard, manager of Keighley Business Improvement District, describes the plans for the Victoria Hotel site as "very welcome".

"The building is in a highly-visible position and doesn’t create a wonderful impression of Keighley in its current state," he added. "Commercial use and residential would be a good fit for this building."

Keighley MP Robbie Moore said he also welcomed the plans, but "with a degree of caution".

"It’s great to see the building could be given a new lease of life and in doing so provide good-quality housing that is much needed," he said.

"However, I know that a lot of people would be sad to see this iconic building lose its original purpose and would prefer to see it kept as a hospitality venue.

"It’s very important that when making a big decision about such a prominent site, the public is consulted throughout the process and that its views are taken on board."

Town mayor, Councillor Peter Corkindale, says he is always keen to see vacant buildings brought back into use.

But he adds that the hotel site is a hugely important one and the correct decision must be made over its future usage.

The present Victoria Hotel is believed to have been built by a Mr Horner, who was born at East Morton in around 1838. The veterinary surgeon – who had a practice at Shipley – died on January 30, 1900, after falling off his horse.

During its heyday the ten-bedroom hotel was hugely popular with visitors to the town, forming a 'gateway' to Keighley.

But it has now stood unoccupied for a number of years.

It is expected that a decision will be made on the latest plan in the New Year.