The 24 metre sign will celebrate national hero Captain Tom Moore
A 24-METRE wide sign celebrating Captain Tom Moore and his fundraising efforts will be installed in Keighley Town Centre.
A planning application to temporarily erect the huge sign on the former Keighley College site at the junction of Cavendish Street and North Street was approved by Bradford Council this week, with officers saying it would “benefit community morale.”
Captain Tom became a national hero due to his fundraising walks to raise money for NHS charities.
His sponsored walks up and down his Bedfordshire garden in the run up to his 100th birthday captured the nation’s imagination and has raised over £33 million. It led to him being knighted and even scoring a Number One single – a duet with Michael Ball on a cover of You’ll Never Walk Alone.
And he has become a local hero too – Captain Tom was born and raised in Keighley.
Last month Keighley Town Council submitted a planning application to install a temporary 24m by 2.3m sign at the site – currently a vacant field.
The sign would say ‘Captain Tom – Keighley Lad’ or a similar phrase. Although the town council supplied planning permission and is providing £1,000 towards the cost of building the sign, it is the brainchild Cllr Russell Brown who represents Worth Valley ward Bradford Council.
Mr Brown, who has been building the sign for several weeks in Haworth, said the idea grew out of original plans by several townspeople including himself to erect a sign highlighting Keighley’s involvement in Bradford’s City of Culture project.
Cllr Brown said: “Unfortunately that came to a halt because of Covid-19, but when we heard about Capt Tom and realised he was from Keighley we wanted to pay tribute to him.
“Keighley is a great place with great things going on. Tom is just one of those characters from Keighley that says what the town is about.”
The application was approved by Bradford Council this week.
Officers said the sign would technically cause harm to the town’s Conservation Area – home to a number of listed buildings.
But they agreed that the community pride created by the sign, and its temporary nature, would overcome these concerns.
The report from planning officers said: “The size and location is such that the display will affect the setting of buildings and the character and appearance of the conservation area.
“However, such effects will be short-lived and reversible.
“The installation will be dismantled and taken away upon completion of the period for display.
“Any harm will be less than substantial and outweighed by notable public benefits in terms of community morale in commemorating this native of Keighley during the Covid19 pandemic.”
One of the conditions of the approval is that the sign can only remain in place for seven months. The plans come at a time when the future of the former college site is being debated. Bradford Council has previously announced that the site would become a £9 million ‘public sector hub’ – home to different public agencies like the police. But there have been calls to keep the site as a public open space.
A campaign has started to create a new ‘urban park’ at the site – named in honour of NHS workers or Captain Tom.