Centre will catapult town into big time

work on a controversial £30m retail and leisure centre for Keighley town centre is due to start early next year with a hoped-for opening in autumn 2014.

Detailed planning permission has been granted for the Worth Valley Shopping Centre with the possibility that it could create 600 jobs when complete and 300 construction jobs. Developers hope that the top class shopping destination will help reverse years of perceived stagnation in the town and make Keighley one of the most important centres in West Yorkshire. But the decision to regenerate the former industrial site has not pleased everyone.

Earlier this year rival Airedale Centre chiefs claimed the company behind the new centre which will lie between East Parade, Coney Lane and Gresley Road. would take money and jobs out of the town.

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However, Stainsby Grange’s development director, David Williams, was cock-a-hoop, saying: “This is fantastic news. We have worked hard over the last eight years to assemble the site of five acres from nine different land owners to be able to put forward a scheme which will help refocus Keighley as the main Airedale destination with shops in a format that retailers want in the 21st century. It is important that Keighley has a new retail and leisure scheme to allow it not only to keep pace with developments in Leeds and Bradford, where a lot of natural trade leaks, but to recapture that trade. We are already in discussions with a number of national retailers, restaurant and leisure operators. We are pleased to be able to confirm that the country’s largest cinema chain, Cineworld, has agreed terms and got board approval for an 8-screen cinema as part of this development.” The news could also spell the deathknell for the Keighley Picture House, which celebrates its centenary next year and which may close if a planned eight-screen cinema is built in the town centre. Proprietor Charles Morris has said he would be unable to compete.