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Keighley's £33m Towns Fund projects to be discussed at public meeting

Wednesday, 15 March 2023 15:26

By Chris Young, Local Democracy Reporter

Artist's impression of the new Keighley Health Hub

Details of how £33 million will be spent on the regeneration of Keighley, including new facilities at Keighley Cougars' ground and a new “future technologies” centre, have been revealed.

Work to refurbish and reopen the town’s Market Square toilets will begin shortly, and a new arts hub could permanently transform an old town centre department store.

But work to create a new health hub on a town centre site has stalled while a Government minister decides if the project should proceed.

In 2021 it was announced that Keighley and Shipley had been successful in its bid to the Government’s Towns Funds, with Keighley getting £33m and Shipley awarded £25m.

Towns Fund boards, which include local businesses, town councillors and Bradford Council representatives, were set up to develop plans on what the money could be spent on.

Although some details of the projects that have been proposed have been made public, this detail is often vague.

But at a meeting of Bradford Council’s Keighley Area Committee on Thursday, members will discuss some of the projects in public for the first time as part of a wider discussion on developments in the town.

A Manufacturing, Engineering Future Technologies Hub will be a project involving Keighley College and local businesses to train people up in skills such as online marketing and cyber security.

Members will be told that a lease on a building for the hub has been agreed with property owners, and it could be occupied by September 2024.

A Community Grants scheme will see cash handed to community groups, and will include funding for work to Keighley Cougars’ stadium.

The club has previously announced that the work will include a new stand, boxing gym and more accessible changing facilities.

A new community arts hub will create a new “cultural destination” for the town, and work is underway to try to purchase the old Sunwin House department store as a base for this facility.

Improvements planned for public spaces in the town, including squares, pedestrianised areas such as Low Street and parks is due to begin soon, with work to reopen the Market Square toilets to start this Spring.

A £14m fund set up to allow Keighley business to expand into new sites in the town has seen a number of projects drawn up, with funding expected to be signed off in a matter of weeks.

A new health and wellbeing centre, funded partly through the towns fund, had been planned for the old Keighley College site on North Street – now used as a temporary green space.

However, the scheme has faced opposition from residents, the Town Council and MP Robbie Moore, who all argue that the hub should be based on another site in the town.

Referring to this plan, the report says: “The Business Case has been approved by the Keighley Town Deal Board.

“The Health Consortium, which includes Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, Bradford District and Craven CCG, Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust and local Primary Care Networks, and the council remain committed to delivery of the scheme.

“Concerns have been expressed by the local MP regarding the development of the proposed site which has been cleared and temporarily treated since 2017 and specifically, the alleged lack of a rigorous search for alternative sites dating back to 2021.

“As a result the matter has been referred to the (Government) Minister, seeking direction as to whether the project should proceed.”

A new skills hub, where residents would be able to receive training and education, is also planned, and is likely to be based within the health and wellbeing hub building.

The meeting will be held in Keighley Town Hall at 6pm on Thursday (16th March).

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