A PROPERTY developer has allayed fears work had stalled at a controversial development site in Bradford.

Local residents in the Eccleshill area have raised concerns at a lack of progress at the Union Mills site in Harrogate Road.

They said it has stood dormant for weeks, with very little activity on the site where seven retail units are due to be built.

Ilkley-based Opus North, which acquired the land and successfully secured planning permission in 2017, is building a retail park on the site, which will feature a Lidl supermarket, a Gregg’s, Starbucks.

Residents and campaigners who tried to save the site, which featured the fishing pond Pilley’s Dam - a popular site among wildlife and anglers - raised concerns in recent weeks as work on the site had seemed to stop.

However, Union Mills project manager James Farnaby, from Opus North, said the pause in progress was just part of the development process.

He said: “We have come to the end of the enabling contract, for demolition and emptying the pond as far as we could.

“That completed a couple of weeks ago, hence why there has been no work on the site.

“The second contract, to plateau and build on the site is due to commence in late September or early October.

“In the mean time we will be on site continuing to deal with the pond, removing materials from that to aid with the next phase.

“The site can be split into two sites; there is the Lidl unit and then the Starbucks and Gregg’s units at the front on Harrogate Road, and then the area to the left where the pond currently is.

“We are currently in discussions with various parties for that site.”

The £10 million development is expected to create 100 new jobs in Eccleshill.

On a Facebook group dedicated to the site, residents have said work has not been taking place for weeks, apart from a water pump on the site being used to drain parts of the pond which continue to fill up with water.

They said the site appeared “empty” and to have been “abandoned”, and nearly all wildlife had left the site.

When the plans were submitted, they were met with opposition by members of the local community over the loss of green space and the impact the development would have on local infrastructure.

Speaking at the time, Councillor Brendan Stubbs (Lib Dem, Eccleshill) said the Pilley’s Dam pond attracted a lot of wildlife and when the retail park is built the wildlife will disappear.

As well as a large number of fish in the pond, residents also said the loss of the pond would water fowl and small animals in the area with nowhere to go.

Cllr Stubbs added that the development - combined with housing developments in the area - would put extra pressure on Harrogate Road, which already experiences congestion issues.

The plans were approved by Bradford Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee in December 2017.