Thousands sign petition supporting new health hub on Keighley town centre site

Monday, January 31st, 2022 10:49pm

By Chris Young, Local Democracy Reporter

Debate has been re-ignited over plans to build a new health hub on the former Keighley College site on North Street in the town.

Some residents have argued that the site, now a temporary green space, should remain as it is and become a new public park. A petition signed by over 1,900 people calling for the site to remain as it is was discussed at a meeting of Bradford Council last year.

And at a meeting last week members of the Council discussed another petition, this one in favour of the plan.

Current proposals for the Bradford Council owned site is for a health facility – which would include GP, dental, midwife and mental health services, to be constructed. Negotiations are underway with the NHS Airedale Trust, who would occupy sections of the building, and West Yorkshire Police – who have expressed interest in opening a town centre station within the development.

The petition calling for the plans to be scrapped and the green space retained had said it would be a much needed oasis in the centre of Keighley.

The petition in favour of the health hub had been signed by over 2,900 people.

Steve Davison, presenting the petition, said: “Currently we have a big hole in the middle of Keighley, something that will be familiar to people in this chamber from years’ gone by in Bradford.

“At the moment we have a patch of grass. It is a quite nice patch of grass, but it doesn’t serve much purpose. We’ve had a grass space in the middle of Keighley – Church Green, which quickly became home to alcoholics and the homeless of Keighley. We don’t want a repetition of that on this piece of grass.

“I suppose you could use it as a picnic space for the two or three days of sun we get a year, with the view of Wetherspoons on one side and a row of take aways on the other. It could become an attraction, but I think it should be put to some useful purpose.

“What we need in Keighley is some joined up thinking in terms of health and health provision.”

Councillor Julie Glentworth (Cons, Keighley West) questioned the claim that the hub would bring more footfall to the town centre. She also claimed many people who signed the petition had been tricked into doing so.

She added: “North Street is one of the most polluted streets in the are. How does increased traffic generated by this hub help? After Covid it is important that people have a green space to relax.”

Suggesting the area could be named after Keighley born Captain Tom Moore, she said: “He showed what people can achieve in the face of diversity, and put Keighley in the national spotlight for a good reason, not drugs and child exploitation.”

Councillor Alex Ross Shaw, portfolio holder for planning, highways and regeneration, said: “In Ilkley life expectancy is 10 years longer than in Keighley Central. Nothing outlines the case for a new health facility in the town more than that.”

He said the hub would bring 200 jobs to the town centre, 50 of which would be newly created jobs.

He added: “It is odd that when talking about North Street you say it is too polluted for a building to put there, but you want a park and benches instead.”

The hub will be part funded through the Government’s Keighley Towns Fund – a £33m pot of regeneration cash. A business case for the health hub will be submitted to Government in June.

After the meeting Cllr Ross-Shaw said: “It was great to hear such strong support from the Keighley petitioners and more than 2,000 signatories who are keen to see us pushing on with our plans for a top class health centre at North Street. Bringing different health services together in a one-stop centre will be so beneficial for everyone in Keighley, both in terms of the positive health impact but also vitally the jobs, footfall and investment it brings to this key brownfield site. We want the centre to be a really high quality building and it’s fantastic to hear so many people in Keighley feel the same, are excited about the plans and are keen for us to work with our partners in pushing it forward and bringing it to fruition.”

 

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