BUILDING a training centre in the heart of Keighley rather than on its outskirts will “maximise regeneration” in the town, a meeting heard.

But there are still major questions over where at least £1m of the funding will come from.

Late last year, Keighley was awarded £19.8 million through the Government’s Levelling Up Fund after a bid by Bradford Council was approved.

Projects to be funded through the bid include an Advanced Robotics and Engineering Institute that would train students in future technologies.

Keighley and Worth Valley Railway would get an upgrade to boost passenger numbers, and £8m would be used to entice developers to build on four long empty brownfield sites in the town.

Members of Bradford Council’s Executive were given an update on the funding at a meeting on Tuesday.

The meeting heard there had been a number of changes to the plans for the Robotics and Engineering – including moving its eventual location.

An artist's impression of the planned robotics centreAn artist's impression of the planned robotics centre (Image: Bradford Council)

Instead of being built on the Stockbridge Depot, as originally planned when the bid was submitted to Government in 2022, the centre will now be built on the former Keighley College site on Lord Street – which faces onto Cavendish Street.

It will sit next to a planned health hub – due to be built on a neighbouring vacant site.

But the report says while the Levelling Up cash will pay £7.6m towards the estimated £8.7m cost of the centre – the remaining shortfall will currently have to be made up by either the Council or third parties.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, the Council's executive member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “The location of this hub is even better than the original plan, and it will complement the health and wellbeing centre that will be built on the neighbouring site.

“It will really maximise the regeneration of this area of Keighley Town Centre.”

Angela Blake, Assistant Director for Economic Development, told the meeting: “Initially the plan was for it to be on the Stockbridge Depot, but due to the time that has lapsed an alternative site on Lord Street in the centre of Keighley has been chosen.

“We’ve spoken to stakeholders and the local MP and this move has been supported, so it will be located at this site if it goes forward.”

The report to the Executive explained: “The initial proposal was also for the Council to deliver the construction phase of the AREI, which when completed, would then be leased to the Luminate Group and Bradford University at a peppercorn rent.

“This would have involved the Council carrying the responsibility for the overall construction risk.”

But the report says that on top of the Levelling Up Funding, the centre will require additional match funding.

When Council officers looked at revised costs for the project, due to changes I the market since the scheme was submitted in 2022, they found the extra funding needed would be £2m. By moving the site from Stockbridge to Lord Street the figure was reduced to £1.1m.

But the report added: “The costs would add financial pressure to the existing savings which need to be delivered. The Council would need to find additional savings of £89,000 per annum, to support this scheme if it goes ahead.

“The Council has a fiduciary duty to its Council taxpayers, the main beneficiaries of project is Luminate Group and Bradford University who charge fees, but the risks for the delivery of the project and all associated costs will sit with the Council.”

Discussions had been held with the Luminate Group and University, but the report adds: “Both Luminate Group and the University of Bradford has confirmed that they are not able to provide the required match funding into the AREI or to take on responsibility for managing the construction project and the associated risks involved with that.”

At the meeting Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe said: “It says in the group the Luminate Group is not able to help with the funding. They seem to have a lot of other construction projects going on across their estate.”

Mrs Blake replied: “We’ve met with the group as well as senior managers at the University, and they’ve told us they are unable to raise any new capital for this project.”

The Executive voted for the Council to “continue to try to identify alternative sources of match funding and a partner to take on the construction risk of the project.”