Bradford Council has voted to approve plans for an industrial park on a flood plain, despite the advice of experts and flying in the face of national policies.

The Environment Agency had raised concerns that the planned industrial park off Royd Ings Avenue, next to the River Aire in Keighley, could create a higher risk of floods further down the river.

But today councillors voted to approve the plans, saying the benefits of a multi million pound investment and hundreds of new jobs in Keighley outweighed the risks created by building on a flood plain.

Coincidentally, the decision was made just hours before Leeds City Council discussed plans for a £112 million scheme to reduce the risk of flooding further down the River Aire.

Bradford Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee re-iterated its support for the extension of Keighley Industrial Park - a development that would see nine commercial units built on the flood plain. They would be built on stilts to allow flood water to pass underneath the buildings.

The committee had already voted to support the plan, by PH Holdings, in March, despite the recommendations from planning officers it be refused. But since then, the Environment Agency had raised serious concerns about the scheme, saying the development would cause flood risks further down the river, and there would be no way to mitigate this. They had pointed out that on April 3, days after the committee voted to support the plans after claiming there was little evidence of recent flooding on the site, the site flooded.

The committee was asked to re-consider the plans in light of this detailed expert opinion, but at today’s meeting again voted for it to go ahead.

The scheme, on both a floodplain and partly on greenbelt land, will now have to go before the Secretary of State for final approval, and the Environment Agency will need to issue a certificate allowing it to operate.

At the meeting Ian Hayfield, representing the applicants, said: “I cannot stress enough the economic benefits this development will have on the area for generations to come. This is about £50 million to £60 million in private sector investment. I have companies on my doorstep waiting to expand by moving here. There will be hundreds of jobs. Keighley has never before seen this level of investment, and it is unlikely to ever again. Keighley needs your support.”

At today’s meeting, members grilled Sam Kipling from the Environment Agency. Cllr Mike Ellis (Cons, Bingley Rural), pointed out that flood alleviation projects would soon take place elsewhere on the river, and this could make flooding at the site less likely. Mr Kipling said those projects were publicly funded, adding: “This funding is about protecting existing developments, not to unlock sites for growth and new developments.”

Councillor Simon Cooke (Cons, Bingley Rural) said: “It would be nice if planning decisions were clear cut, and we didn’t have to make a Solomon like judgement of whether the people of Keighley should have jobs or if we have to put up with a higher risk of flooding somewhere else down the River Aire. This development will have a clear benefit to people who we are here to represent, set against a difficult to assess future risk to some other people who we are here to represent in places like Cottingley, Shipley and Esholt.”

Cllr Alun Griffiths (Lib Dem, Idle and Thackley) said he would feel “very foolish” to overrule the Agency’s expert opinion. Cllr Shabir Hussain (Lab, Manningham), said: “I can’t understand why there is so much fuss about building in a flood plain. They build bridges over miles of water without much of a problem.”

Six councillors voted in favour of the plans, and one against.

After the meeting Cllr Jeanette Sunderland (Lib Dem, Idle and Thackley), who will now write to the Secretary of State urging refusal of the plans, said: “As a councillor who was involved helping people after the the floods of 2015, I am shocked and astonished that Bradford Council have gone against all of the warnings of the Environment Agency, and I’m sure the people of Shipley, Bingley, Esholt and Apperley Bridge will be shocked too.”