Final plea to re-think council’s plans for hi-tech business park

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CAMPAIGNERS opposing plans for a high technology business park are to make a final plea for the scheme to be abandoned.

Baildon Residents Against Inappropriate Development (BRAID) have claimed that plans for a business park on land off Buck Lane in Baildon, Bradford, will worsen traffic problems and may not actually create any new jobs.

In December the group presented the council with 1,700 signatures against the council scheme.

They called for the land to be declared a green space for community recreation and their message will be heard again at a meeting of senior councillors next week.

Next Tuesday councillors are expected to vote to push ahead with the plan by signing an agreement with a developer and preparing documents with a view to awarding a contract for highway works.

A report to next week’s executive committee says that £220,000 has already been spent on the project and the time is right for it to be brought to fruition.

It says that council officers have been in discussions with several companies, from within and outside the district, that wish to expand.

At present there are six companies, all of whom could be accommodated on the site, the report notes.

Council negotiations with occupiers have been ongoing since July last year and the first of these occupiers, which is relocating from outside the district, is in a position to sign a design and build contract with their preferred developer.

Discussions are also ongoing with another company from outside Bradford which wishes to relocate to Buck Lane, the council says.

“The two companies are both high value manufacturing companies, employ about 100 staff between them and have a turnover of circa £8m,” says the report.

“The owners of both companies have been searching for suitable design and build opportunities for a number of years, but sites in a convenient locations have been few and far between. They both have a desire to move to Buck Lane as it offers them the opportunity they need to expand and have modern accommodation built which reflects the ambition of the company owners.”

Council officers are also speaking to another four firms who have expressed a desire to expand to larger premises on Buck Lane as they want to be based in the Aire Valley.

The report concludes that a decision on the scheme needs to be made quickly and should not be delayed by being ‘called-in’ for scrutiny.

“Negotiations with the developer are at any advanced stage and end-user expectations are that this will be completed and exchanged expediently.

“Any delay resulting from the calling-in of these decisions may be prejudicial to the interests of the council in terms of delivering the project as well as harming its reputation,” it warns.

Campaigners are hoping to address councillors one last time next week.

Baildon parish councillor Ian Lyons, who is a member of BRAID, said the project was a “huge gamble with public money”.

He said: “It will cost the council around £5m but with no guarantee that companies will move onto the site.

“The council cannot empty the bins at Christmas and is cutting services to the elderly yet is spending millions on this.”

Coun Lyons said that fighting against the scheme had led him to become temporarily disillusioned with local politics.

“Our petition was the biggest presented to Bradford Council but was treated as a joke. If we had collected 10,000 names it would not have mattered.

“People were looking for democracy...but it was a foregone conclusion.

“At that point I was ready to throw in the towel.”

He said the site was not suitable for a business park because of poor transport links and would add to congestion.

andrew.robinson1@ypn.co.uk