Keighley flats approved despite proximity to busy road

Friday, August 5th, 2022 9:01pm

By Chris Young, Local Democracy Reporter

Plans to build flats next to one of Keighley's most polluted roads have been approved after planners said the upcoming Bradford Clean Air Zone will likely improve air quality before anyone moves in.

A planning application to build a four-storey, 24-flat building on Low Mill Lane, Keighley, was submitted to Bradford Council in February 2021.

The building would be next to Khalid’s Restaurant at the junction of the road and Bradford Road – just yards from Keighley Rail Station.

The ground floor of the building would be home to “flexible commercial units”.

The Low Mill Lane area was recently found to have illegal levels of Nitrogen Dioxide, and planners raised concerns about the health of future residents of the flats.

But the application, by Zulqurnain Mohammed, argued that the upcoming Clean Air Zone (CAZ) would reduce NO2 levels at the junction to legal levels by the time the development was complete.

Due to go live next month, the CAZ will not include Keighley.

However, Government funding linked to the CAZ has seen a large section of the most polluting vehicles across the district, including HGVs, buses and taxis, upgraded to greener engines.

At a meeting last month Bradford Councillors were told that 92 per cent of the district’s private hire fleet, including a significant amount of Keighley vehicles, had upgraded to cleaner engines.

Andrew Whittles, the Clean Air Project manager, said this meant the district had “the cleanest taxi fleet anywhere in the UK”.

Air monitoring equipment found the average annual Nitrogen Dioxide level for the Low Mill Lane area in 2021 was 44.7µg/m3.

The legal limit is 40.

An air quality report in the application says this equipment was at the roadside. With the flats being further away from the road, the air quality around the apartments is likely to be “just below” the legal limit – around 37.4µg/m3.

It says air quality in the area “is predicted to improve further once the CAZ is implemented” adding: “It is anticipated that following the implementation of the CAZ, there will be a reduction in NO2 concentrations in future years. Information provided by Bradford Council indicated that NO2 levels at the site are likely to decrease by 10µg/m3 by 2025.

“Introduction of the Bradford CAZ will further reduce NO2 concentrations to well below the AQO (Ait Quality Objective) by the development opening year.”

Approving the scheme planning officers said: “The proximity of the site to the busy Bradford Road and its controlled junction with Cavendish Street and Greseley Road means that the air quality of the area, and the appropriateness of introducing residential accommodation in this location, has to be carefully considered.

“The applicant has undertaken the necessary survey work and assessments that have been accepted by the Council.”

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