SUPERMARKET giant Aldi has been urged to re-design its plans to transform a derelict site in Keighley.

Members of a planning committee told representatives from the company that while they were keen to see the site, off East Parade in the town centre, re-developed, they had concerns about the scheme that Aldi had put forward.

Plans for the site, which has been empty for around 20 years, call for Aldi to re-locate from its existing location in the town to a new, purpose built store on the site, the creation of a drive thru coffee shop and another large retail unit.

It would be an investment of around £10 million.

The proposals went before members of Bradford Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee yesterday morning, where planning officers had advised members to refuse the application.

After debating the issue members instead decided to defer their decision until the New Year, allowing Aldi time to meet with the Council’s planning department to see if a more acceptable design could be brought forward.

The site has been vacant for decades, with a string of failed developments planned for the key part of Keighley. Plans for a cinema, shopping centre and a Next store have all failed to come to fruition.

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While planning officers had said it was vital the site be developed, the proposals by Aldi “will not fit in with the appearance of the town centre” and that there was too much of an emphasis on cars, ,rather than pedestrian links into the town.

Planning officers Stuart Currie told the meeting: “We welcome any development, but it has to integrate with the town centre.”

He said when the store was in talks with the Council about the site it had been suggested the show their plans to a design panel, made up of Council officers, to see if the scheme was suitable before a full application was submitted. He told members this had not happened.

He said the buildings did not reflect the Victorian architecture that defines parts of Keighley town centre, adding: “This is a retail park style development - a large car park with buildings around its border. The scheme for the site should be ambitious in its design, it should avoid the type of development we’ve seen over the years like the Sports Direct and B&M (a retail site off Cavendish Street) - large units that don’t integrate with the town centre.

“This is a scheme designed around the car. It is not seen as a positive addition that will complement Keighley town centre.”

Councillor Zafar Ali (Cons, Keighley Central) was critical of this point of view, saying the site desperately needed developing. He said: “I’ve lived in Keighley for 56 years and I can tell you that this site is an eyesore - it looks like a jungle.”

Keighley Town Councillor Peter Corkindale spoke in favour of the application, saying: “The site is an eyesore, it looks like a replica World War II bomb site.

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“I can’t imagine why anyone would have any objection to this. This is a brownfield site that has stood empty for donkeys, it is about time we have something here.”

Mr Currie replied: “We are not against new development here, but it is about how it fits into the town centre. It has to be right for this site, it has to be a scheme that is ready. I don’t think this scheme is ready. Developing this site can’t be at any cost.”

Will Brook spoke on behalf of Aldi, and said the company had altered the scheme at the Council’s request several times.

He said the new store would improve customer experience.

Terms had been agreed for "two well known national retailers" to move into the other units on the site, and if approved the new Aldi would open in 2022. When it did it would free up the town's existing Aldi unit, and Mr Brook said another business had expressed interest in moving in there.

He added: "The assertion that this is a poor design is unfair and unjust. We are not proposing a generic Aldi, this will be Keighley's Aldi."

The store would include natural stone on the walls, rather than the usual Aldi cladding.

But Mr Currie replied: "The scheme is the standard Aldi like what you see in Bingley or Allerton, It is not a bespoke design. It remains a fairly unassuming retail unit at the back of the site.

"We need to bring a scheme of the quality that is needed in Keighley."

Councillor Russell Brown (Cons, Worth Valley) said he was "conflicted" over the plans. He said: "There doesn't seem to have been many successful bids to develop this site. On balance I think I'll support this."

Chair of the Committee Councillor David Warburton (Lab, Wyke) had concerns over the plans, and said: "We don't want to see the site abandoned for another decade, but I think with some work over a short period of time the developer could come up with a more appropriate layout of the site.

"It has been said that this site is a blight on the landscape. What we don't want is for this to become a new build blight on the landscape. We want to see a site that links with the existing town centre."

Councillor Alan Wainwright (Lab, Tong) said: "We need a scheme that is right for that site. I personally don't think we should agree to development at any cost. This scheme is based on roads, not based on pedestrians. That is what a town centre thrives on - pedestrians."

The committee then voted to defer the application until January, asking the developer to come back with a new plan.