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No ‘Plan B’ for old Tyrls police station as councillors express concern over city centre delay

THE delay in selling the former Tyrls police station site to a developer has caused concern among councillors, with some querying why outline planning permission was being allowed to expire.

The city centre scheme was unveiled in 2014 and the old police building razed to the ground and a “temporary” garden area created.

The idea was to tempt a developer along to build the modern office block, but talks which started with an interested party last year have come to naught.

Tonight, a meeting of the regeneration and economy overview and scrutiny committee was told the scheme had to be delivered by 2021.

Councillor David Heseltine (Con, Bingley) said he was concerned the public would think the council was not bothered if it didn’t renew the planning permission.

His fears were seconded by Councillor Andrew Mallinson (Con, Craven).

They were told by officers that it was normal for there to be no active planning permission on developments and that it was no disadvantage to developers that permission had lapsed.

Committee chairman Councillor Adrian Farley (Labour, Keighley West) asked if there was a Plan B if no developer came forward.

This was echoed by Councillor Riaz Ahmed (Lib Dem, Bradford Moor) who added: “If there is no Plan B you could find that two years down the line we are in the same position.”

They were told it would be “suicidal” to tell people there was a Plan B because it would make them appear less determined to market the site.

Shelagh O’Neill, assistant director economy and development added: “We cannot go out into the market and say we are going to do this and that. It would be suicidal. We have to be robust in our commitment to deliver this.

“This is the level of risk the council is prepared to take. We could decide to build it ourselves and lease the place,” she said.

She added that the scheme had been given a “soft launch” at the MIPIM UK event in London recently and there had been significant interest, not just from developers, but those who may use the offices, too.

Councillor David Green (Labour, Wibsey) claimed the arguments around planning permission were “fake anger” and “something to argue about”.

He said he had spoken to many members of the public about the site and no one has expressed concerns about it.

“Planning permission is not an issue. It loses us focus. We need to get the damn thing built.”

He added that it was important to emphasise that the garden area was “temporary” and to remind people of that.

“When we get a developer people will say they are taking the green space.

“We put a temporary garden there but we still need to keep making it clear that this is a site for prime development for the city centre. It can’t be kept as it is because it doesn’t create jobs and the income we need through rates.”

Members asked officers to update them if there was any marketing development, and then bring it back to the committee for a further update on January 2019.

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