People campaigning against plans to build an enormous Amazon warehouse on sloping farmland near the M62 at Scholes say they are gearing up to scrutinise revised proposals for the scheme.
Action group Save Our Spen says Kirklees Council is giving people until the end of April to respond to the revised plans, which indicate the 59-acre site between Whitehall Road, Whitechapel Road and the motorway is to be a fulfilment centre for the online giant.
That period is longer than the average 10 to 21 days that can be allocated for a re-consultation.
However Save Our Spen say it would be “incomprehensible” for the council not to allow sufficient time “with a development so large and controversial” where more than 1,000 objections have been received.
A spokesman said: ” Kirklees are saying that people have no need to respond if their views have not changed as they will still consider their original objections. Save Our Spen may take a different view on this.”
A new brochure produced by developers ISG Retail Ltd (Bristol) indicates up to 2,400 jobs on the site – an increase of 900 on original estimates.
Save Our Spen said those employment claims were not credible when compared with other Amazon warehouses elsewhere in the country – and that they only referred to the first three years of operation.
A masterplan of the facility shows “instant” hedges planted along the boundary wall facing Whitechapel Road with an illustration of the view from nearby homes over zero, five and 15 years. Save Our Spen says it will be 15 years before local people’s ground floor views of the warehouse will be blocked.
Plans also continue to show a second entrance to the site from Whitechapel Road ostensibly for buses, pedestrians and those travelling from the south of the site. All other vehicles will enter from a traffic-controlled entrance on the A58 Whitehall Road.
Another concern is around the news that the facility will be a fulfilment centre. Save Our Spen said: “These usually have a significant van delivery operation so there may be even more traffic. We await the new traffic assessment to see what is now planned.”
News that Amazon is to be the “end user” at Scholes came via a letter to Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater – and almost 10 months after the application first went before a planning committee.
New marketing materials from ISG said: “It is standard practice for Amazon, as with many similar operators, to have its warehouse developments progressed through the planning system by experienced and specialist third party commercial property or construction service companies, such as ISG Retail Ltd.
“However, to help provide greater transparency … Amazon has agreed to confirm its involvement as the operator.”
Among those opposed to the warehouse is leading Liberal Democrat Clr John Lawson, whose Cleckheaton ward includes Scholes.
He has previously warned that the impact of the 24/7 facility means already congested roads leading to junction 26 at Chain Bar on the motorway will grind to a halt.
He commented: “The whole practice of third party applications is questionable in my mind. I don’t know why it exists other than to cloak the applicant in secrecy.
“It doesn’t make for an open and transparent application when it’s being submitted by a third party.
“Local authorities like Kirklees should have a clear view of who is applying for what [in its area]. We now have confirmation of what we thought it was.
“The identity of the applicant brings into question the promise of jobs. We can look at Amazon’s track record of delivery of jobs along with the quality of the jobs on offer.
“That becomes relevant and must be evaluated.”