Former Keighley College demolition crucial to town’s regeneration, says councillor
ONE of Keighley’s biggest eyesores could finally be demolished, it has been revealed this week.
And if Keighley College’s former flagship building is razed to the ground, it could spark one of the biggest regeneration phases in the town’s history.
This is the claim of former Bradford Lord Mayor Councillor Khadim Hussain, who claims replacement of the ugly North Street structure with a £19 million one-stop shop for local services will have a host of positive spin-off effects for the town’s economy.
“To have a building derelict in the heart of Keighley is not a good advertisement.”
Cllr Hussain, who represents Keighley Central ward on Bradford Council, spoke after the local authority this week revealed an application for planning permission to knock down the four-storey structure at the junction of Cavendish Street is being prepared.
And his views were echoed by current Keighley Mayor, Cllr Javaid Akhtar, and Keighley BID vice-chairman, Graham Benn.
Mr Benn said: “To be honest, what we want is for something to happen – we need action.
“The building has stood empty for several years.
“If the council does decide to knock it down, it would be a nice spot to put a car park while we’re waiting for it to be used for new building.”
Cllr Akhtar said: “I’ve got good memories of the college and will be sad to see it demolished, but if that’s the only way to get a long-term solution, then we have to do it.
“But Bradford Council has to be aware there are already places in the town centre with empty spaces that can also be utilised, like the town hall, Civic Centre and Central Hall.”
Three months ago, the council’s ruling executive voted to replace the derelict structure with a new £19 million ‘hub’ to house several public sector organisations. But demolition is now favoured above renovation of the existing building.
The local authority and at least four other bodies – as yet unnamed – would provide frontline services to the public on the ground floor, with ‘back office’ staff on the floors above.
Cllr Hussain, who is also Keighley Area Committee chairman, added: “There needs to be in adequate provision for businesses to expand – we need to see how much space this one-stop shop will free up.
“Also, by bringing the public into Keighley, it would ultimately help businesses by increasing footfall. These people would use the nearby shops.”
Zafar Ali, the third Keighley Central councillor and a former Keighley College student, said he would also miss the building, but wanted the site to be used by the community.
Demolition team begins tearing down parts of old Keighley college building in North Street
LARGE parts of one of the two former Keighley College buildings have been reduced to rubble.
Contractors brought in to demolish the disused premises at the junction of North Street and Cavendish Street have torn down much of the roof of the older part of the property.
Although the work to knock down the building started just before Christmas, actual external structural demolition only began at the start of this week.
As previously reported, an ornate stained glass window on the main stairs of the building is being preserved.
Bradford Council has released details on planned road closures in Keighley town centre to allow the demolition to take place safely.
But it has stressed it is possible the closures will be not be necessary on all of the advertised dates.
A spokesman for the council said: “We began taking the slates off the roof of the building on Wednesday February 1.
“We’d finished asbestos removal on January 27. Until we’d completed that particular job, it limited what else we could do inside the property.
“Structural demolition started on the week beginning Monday February 6.
“Much of the demolition can be done behind scaffolding, without the need for road closures.
“It’s likely we won’t need to actually enforce all the road closures that we’ve advertised. Local businesses will be notified nearer the time.
“This is a 30-week contract, and the contract completion date is in early June of this year.
“Apart from the stained glass windows, all the surplus materials from the demolition will become the property of the contractor.
“The vast majority of this will be recovered and re-cycled by the contractor.
“The stained glass window will be removed by a specialist firm and will be put into council storage for later re-use.”