A CROSS Hills factory which was earmarked for closure has been handed a reprieve.

Clothing manufacturing giant Burberry was planning to shut the Junction Mills site, where it employs 70 people, as part of plans to develop a state-of-the-art £50 million-plus facility in Leeds.

But the company has revealed the ambitious project has been dropped.

And Burberry has pledged instead to "continue to invest" in its Cross Hills operation and a branch at Castleford, which was also due to close.

News of the reprieve for the Skipton Road premises has been welcomed in the community.

Philip Barrett – a district and county councillor, who lives in Glusburn – said: "This is fantastic.

"Safeguarding the future of the company in Cross Hills and the employment it provides is a huge boost to the community.

"I'm delighted for the people who work there."

And Councillor Philip Baker, chairman of Glusburn & Cross Hills Parish Council, said he was "very pleased" at the decision.

He added: "I look forward to more investment at the factory – there is potential for the company to further develop the site."

Burberry announced back in 2015 that it was shutting its Cross Hills and Castleford operations and relocating the workforce to the new centre in Leeds, where more than 1,000 people would be employed – including just over 200 additional posts.

The new plant, at South Bank in the city, would bring weaving and manufacturing together under one roof.

The scheme won high praise from the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, who described Burberry as "one of Britain's most iconic brands".

However, the company has confirmed that the project is now not going ahead.

Julie Brown, chief operating and financial officer, said: "After a detailed review, we concluded that the proposed site is not suitable to support our plans.

"We remain committed to Yorkshire and the UK, and as part of this we will continue to invest in our existing manufacturing operations in Castleford and Cross Hills, Keighley, home to our iconic Burberry Heritage trench coat.

"We will also continue to grow our shared services centre in Leeds, which opened in 2017."

Burberry has occupied its Cross Hill premises, where the firm's famous gabardine fabric is woven, since the 1960s.

It declined to comment on what further investment may be made at the site.

The firm was founded in Basingstoke in 1856 by Thomas Burberry.

Famous customers from across the years have included acclaimed British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, who wore Burberry gabardine for three expeditions in the early 20th century.