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Plan to demolish Keighley mill and replace with modern units

Tuesday, 14 March 2023 14:42

By Chris Young, Local Democracy Reporter

A 19th Century mill could be demolished to make way for a more modern industrial park if new plans are approved.

Walk Mills in Keighley was once a major part of the town’s textile industry. But since textile production at the site ended in the 70s, parts of the site, including its chimney, have been demolished and it is now divided into smaller units.

A planning application by B&E Boys has been submitted to Bradford Council calling for the mill buildings to be flattened and replaced with 12 modern industrial buildings.

It argues that the mill is “not fit for modern usage” and that the redevelopment would attract more businesses to Keighley.

The site is located off Park Lane, between the River Worth and the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.

In 2017 B&E Boys applied to demolish the mill and build housing on the site, which is accessed off Park Lane, but that application was withdrawn in 2021.

The new application says of the mill buildings: “They are old, dilapidated and ill suited to adaptation or the flexibility required for new and growing businesses.

“The existing site layout is such that it creates small, cramped access and courtyard areas with limited room for heavy goods vehicles to enter or turn safely.

“The new floorspace will encourage businesses in subpar accommodation to relocate to Keighley.”

A heritage report included in the plans claims that despite the loss of a 19th Century mill, the town’s heritage will not be harmed by the application. It says: “Textile production ceased in the 1970s, and the property was thereafter divided into separate business/industrial units.

“A tall chimney, along with other buildings, has now gone.

“As an undesignated asset, Walk Mill is significant in the immediate local context primarily for its historic interest as the remaining buildings of a once-larger 19th century woollen mill complex that is the legacy of the town’s textile heritage.

“The architectural interest of the buildings is limited as they are experienced primarily as functional, monolithic structures which are notable for their scale and massing rather than any merit or distinctiveness.

“As regards any effect on the adjacent Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, this is not a designated heritage asset in itself, and as the other industrial structures are unaffected, the character of the Keighley end of the line will remain evident.

“The site’s regeneration for employment use, with all the associated gains to the local economy, represents a public benefit of similar importance and should be regarded in the final planning balance as offsetting the loss of the undesignated buildings.”

A decision on the application is expected in May.

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