The managers of a Keighley factory say Bradford Council’s decision to support the business could secure dozens of jobs over the next decade.
Linear Composites had applied for planning permission to turn an area of land at their site at Vale Mill, Mytholmes Lane, Oakworth, into a storage area and space where lorries could park and manoeuvre.
They said the changes would make it easier for lorries to make deliveries to and from the site, as well as creating up to 16 extra jobs.
The company’s Italian owners Maccaferri had told management that if permission was granted, they would extend the company’s lease at Vale Mills for another ten years. But if it were refused, the owners would likely move the business to another site, possibly even abroad, when the lease came up for renewal at the end of the year.
Despite the threat to the business’ future, planning officers had recommended the application for refusal – because it would harm the Green Belt and went against Council policy.
When it came before the Regulatory and Appeals Committee yesterday, an impassioned plea from both the company’s managing director and ward Councillor Rebecca Poulson convinced councillors to back the plans.
With the site being in the Green Belt, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles will have the final say on whether the changes can go ahead.
Planning officers said the site was in protected Green Belt and the company had not done enough to show there were “exceptional circumstances” to show the scheme should go ahead.
And there had been a number of objections from people saying the development would spoil views from the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway.
Coun Poulson (Con, Worth Valley) said: “The mill has been there for hundreds of years. This land is a waste area next to an industrial mill and they aren’t going to be building on this area.”
Steve Miller, group managing director, said: “This will create 16 full-time jobs, and as a business we spend £3 million on local suppliers.”
He explained the difficulty for lorries to access the site, adding: “One alternative to this is we re-locate the business.”
During the debate, committee deputy chairman, Coun Imran Khan (Lab, Bowling and Barkerend), pointed to an image of the site on a screen and asked planning officers: “What exactly are we trying to protect here? It looks awful.
“Let’s not get hung up on the fact that this is Green Belt – to me that’s just derelict land.”
After the committee voted to support the plans, Mr Miller said: “This secures the future of employment on the site. It’s not over yet because we still need a decision from Eric Pickles, but commonsense has prevailed today.”