Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s is walking away from Bingley after promising for three years it would develop the defunct Bradford & Bingley headquarters.

But before selling the site, once worth £6 million, the retailer has pledged to flatten it and remove the building which some say is a blight on the town.

Shipley Tory MP Philip Davies was told about the surprise decision at a meeting with Sainsbury yesterday – after he pressed them for straight answers on the subject.

Mr Davies said he was disappointed and pleased by finally getting to the truth. He said: “We were in danger of nothing happening so I’m pleased I’ve managed to force the issue. It is best we know sooner rather than later.

“Selling that site as soon as possible is crucial to the future of Bingley town centre. Retailers need something to happen.” Mr Davies explained the history behind this latest twist.

He said: “I told them we couldn’t keep waiting year on year and asked them to go away and make it viable and if they couldn’t then to sell it to someone else.

“If they didn’t we would have ended up with another Westfield situation.

“They’ve done what I asked and in some ways it is positive. But I’m really disappointed they are not going to go ahead as I’d sooner they were moving to Bingley.

“However, I’m pleased that they have at least made a decision.”

Mr Davies said this was out of consideration for traders by not disrupting the town centre at a crucial retail time.

He said: “They will be taking a loss on this whole thing and it isn’t great news for Sainsbury’s, but I’m not bothered about that, I’m bothered about Bingley.”

Andrew Sanderson, Sainsbury’s development manager, said: “We know how much the people of Bingley wanted us to build in their town and we are actively looking for smaller sites in the area.

“We are with immediate effect looking to sell the site so that it can be redeveloped as soon as possible.

“We will work closely with partners to ensure this is done quickly and delivers the best outcome for Bingley.

“We’re aware that this will come as a disappointment to the many supporters the scheme had and would like to thank everyone who has worked with us.”

Bingley Chamber of Trade chairman Howard Martin said: “It’s a huge disappointment and I feel the wool has been pulled over our eyes a little.”

Ward Councillor David Heseltine (Con, Bingley) said: “At least they are not blocking the site and if cleared it will be a much more attractive proposition.

“But it is disappointing they are not going to fulfill their commitment.”

Fellow Conservative Councillor John Pennington said: “Let’s look on the up and invite Waitrose to town instead.

“I know plenty of people who drive to Otley from Bingley just because Waitrose offers what they want.”

Coun Mark Shaw, (Con, Bingley) who also represents the town on Bradford Council, said: “It is really bad news, but at least it is opening the site up and there is a chance of getting someone else moving onto the site.”