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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Fresh consultation expected on massive Amazon plans

A planning expert said traffic assessments have not taken note of higher jobs figures.

By: Tony Earnshaw.

Further consultation “is likely to be necessary” around proposals for a massive Amazon fulfilment centre near the M62 motorway at Scholes once missing details on the scheme have been sent to Kirklees Council.

The authority is waiting on “outstanding information” on jobs and traffic figures associated with the project, which emerged last year and is expected to go before a planning committee this summer.

One councillor who is opposed to the facility said the incomplete nature of information around the use of surrounding residential roads was “worrying”. Cllr John Lawson for Cleckheaton (Lib Dem) said the application was “consistently vague”.

The plans for the new Amazon facility are proving to be controversial. Image: ISG Retail Ltd (Bristol).

In a seven-page letter sent as she left the council on May 24 Kate Mansell, the former group leader – development management, said timescales would be impacted as a result of further data being needed – and the time required to digest it.

Ms Mansell raised several issues in her letter including environmental health, design and landscape, and the “stopping up” of a public footpath crossing the 59-acre site, which is sandwiched between the A58 Halifax Road and the B6120 Whitechapel Road. She also sought clarification on the number of jobs set to be created on site, which was initially announced as 1,500 to 1,700 permanent positions rising to around 2,400 jobs over a three-year period.

She said a traffic assessment for the site was “not entirely clear” and that greater clarity was needed around staff numbers and shift patterns and how local roads might be affected, particularly in relation to schools and walking routes.

A spokesman for campaign group Save Our Spen said it was “shocking” that almost a year after the Amazon application was received by Kirklees Council “a significant amount of information is still missing or unclear”.

He added: “One of the major issues concerns the number of jobs claimed. There are examples up and down the country of job claims made during the planning process failing to materialise when the Amazon warehouses are operational. That brings us on to another issue: how many jobs are there going to be? If it is really 2400, why is the traffic report and with it the air and noise pollution report only based on 1,350 employees?”

Cllr Lawson commented: “The touted increase in jobs over the first three years obviously impacts the traffic modelling carried out so far. The lack of clarity in the traffic assessment leaves residents in the dark about how noise and air quality are impacted by future shift patterns. It’s only right that applications of this size should bring full answers to standard questions, not more questions.

“The incomplete nature of the information on the use of the roads surrounding the site, including Whitechapel Road past the primary school, is worrying. Residents should expect to see this level of detail; it’s about trust. The level of detail missing and unacceptable methodology in producing data does not inspire confidence.

“The application continues to drain authority resources by being consistently vague across the board, it’s always a bad sign when officers have to chase developers to this degree.”

The most recent consultation period expired on 31 May but Kirklees Council has indicated that people can still send in comments on the Amazon plan and that they will still be taken into account.

Kirklees Council confirmed there will be a further 21-day consultation period and that it would take comments on any planning application “up until the date a decision is made. In this case, we’ll still take comments after 30 June when the notification period expires.”

Comments can be emailed to dc.admin@kirklees.gov.uk

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