DELIGHT has been voiced at the Government’s approval of funding for the new Keighley health and wellbeing centre.

The go-ahead means work can now start in earnest on the long-talked-about complex, which is expected to open in the summer of 2026. A wide range of healthcare services will be provided from the “hub”, a scheme which has been hailed as “a great boost” for Keighley and the district.

The approved funding of £3.4 million forms part of a Towns Fund grant from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

But despite joy at the funding green light, controversy remains over the siting of the centre, which is to be built on the former college land at the junction of North Street and Cavendish Street.

Following the demolition of the old college building the site was grassed over, and campaigners have been pressing for it to be retained as a “green space” and the centre be built elsewhere.

A new conceptual design was submitted to the Government as a compromise, incorporating more green space into the development.

Ian Hayfield, chair of the Keighley Towns Fund board, said he was “delighted” to receive notification from Levelling Up minister Dehenna Davison of the scheme’s success.

“This is extremely positive news for the town,” he says.

“Several hurdles have been jumped, with a few more to be negotiated I’m sure, and many views from all sides have been put forward.

“On a personal note I would like to thank all those people who have been involved with the decision-making process.

“I am confident that everyone will now come together to deliver a scheme that Keighley can be proud of and help deliver social and economic change.”

Services provided from the new facility will include GPs, self-care and prevention, community and dental care and mental health provision, and there will be a GP training hub.

The scheme will also bring about 200 jobs to the town centre, 50 of them new posts, says Bradford Council.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, the council’s portfolio holder for regeneration, planning and transport, says: “The announcement is a great result for Keighley. It will bring a brand new facility in the heart of the town, within easy reach of transport links, and provide essential services to improve the lives of those living in the community.

“In addition it will be a great boost for investment and jobs for Keighley and the wider district. This is a partnership success and thanks must go to the Keighley Towns Fund board and everyone involved.”

However, Keighley Conservative MP, Robbie Moore, accuses the Labour-run council of “riding roughshod” over the wishes of the town’s public.

He says: “Bradford Council seems to have forgotten that only just a year ago we had a public referendum in Keighley and the town voted strongly against our green space in North Street being built on.

“Keighley should have had the best of both worlds – a new health and wellbeing hub and kept the green space on North Street. But given Bradford Council’s useless, idle approach, not exploring other brownfield sites or empty buildings in the centre of Keighley, our green space is now due to be built on. I have always said that I want to see a new health and wellbeing hub in Keighley town centre and for our green space to stay green.

“It is therefore infuriating that despite pressure throughout the last three years by myself and the clear democratic result of the public referendum, in which 61 per cent of residents voted to keep our green space green, the council chose to dither and delay and not explore other brownfield sites within the centre of Keighley to locate our new health and wellbeing hub on.

“Whilst it is great news that £3.4 million has been allocated to the project by our Conservative Government, it is my view there are still plenty of brownfield sites or empty buildings elsewhere in Keighley where it should have been built.

“This is a classic example of Labour-run Bradford Council riding roughshod over a democratic process and ignoring the views of the referendum by only presenting this single option to the Government. As a result, due to the council’s laziness, our green space is now due to be built on to prevent the loss of funding within the allocated timeframe.”

Council leader, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, refutes the allegations.

She adds: “I am relieved and delighted that the Government has finally said yes and this much-needed health facility can now go ahead. But we will immediately need to negotiate an extension of time with the Government because of the delay in its decision, caused frankly by the irresponsible campaign of the MP.

“This project has been delayed by many months because the MP made impossible promises to the public claiming other sites for the health centre were available. Other sites were never available within that budget.

“It’s now all hands on deck to get this scheme delivered to help tackle the health inequalities that blight too many lives in Keighley, and boost regeneration in the town centre. I call on the MP to unite with us to deliver a health facility for Keighley people which we can all be proud of.”

John Grogan, Labour’s Keighley parliamentary candidate, says: “The Government has decided to fund the compromise proposal by the local NHS incorporating more green space and landscaping on the site alongside the health centre.

“Given the decision, the task at hand now is to deliver high-quality health facilities on the site and get a good design for the building. The regeneration of the town centre is now one of the most urgent issues facing Keighley, as the outgoing mayor Councillor Luke Maunsell noted.”