Plans for giant warehouse set to go before council

Plans for an “absolutely monstrous” warehouse and distribution centre on farmland near Cleckheaton that will “totally dominate the landscape” will go before Kirklees Council's planning committee next week.

Sunday, 30th May 2021, 11:00 am
An artist's impression of the proposed giant warehouse between Scholes and Cleckheaton
An artist's impression of the proposed giant warehouse between Scholes and Cleckheaton

The “wholly inappropriate” building, described by critics as equivalent in height to an eight-storey tower block and the length of three full-size football pitches side-by-side, has been linked to the online retail giant Amazon

However the pre-application discussion for the site, between Whitehall Road, Whitechapel Road and the M62, means the public will not be allowed to speak.

The 59-acre site is close to housing, a horticultural nursery, a golf course and a cemetery. If completed it could employ around 1,500 people.

Matthew Beardsworth, of Beardsworths Ltd Nursery and Garden Centre, Cleckheaton, at the nearby Whitehall Road Gas Installation and site of the planned warehouse

Those jobs might include engineering, IT professionals, robotics, general management, human resources and team members to manage customer orders.

But with space earmarked for nearly 200 HGVs as well as 900 cars and vans there are concerns that local routes will become clogged.

There are fears that between six and ten HGVs could go in or out of the site every minute.

A report to the council’s strategic planning committee on June 3 describes a proposal “of significant scale” with a total floor space of 265,600sqm.

It would be a third of a kilometre long, 178m wide and 23m high.

What’s more, “extensive earthworks” would be required to level up the sloping site.

The site forms part of the council’s controversial Local Plan. And even though its scope “exceeds the development capacity” outlined in the Local Plan’s allocation document, it would contribute towards the council’s target of delivering 23,000 jobs by 2031.

On that basis officers say the introduction of an employment facility on the site “is acceptable in principle”.

Among those opposed to the warehouse is Cleckheaton councillor and Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Kath Pinnock.

She described it as “a huge intrusion” on the local landscape and that the implications for traffic were “unbelievably awful”.

She added: “It is a vast site, absolutely monstrous.

“It will totally dominate the landscape and will be seen for miles.

“It is wholly inappropriate and I am opposing it completely.

“We can’t just allow big corporations with plenty of money to bulldoze our green space, covering fields with giant sheds.

“You can do it in the States but you cannot do it in Cleckheaton and the Spen Valley.

“We want our landscape to be respected.”

The proposed warehouse would tower above Beardsworths Nurseries. Production director Matthew Beardsworth said: “When I first saw the plans I felt absolute horror but now I’ve looked into it I’m not particularly worried.

“This is a massive gas transmission station and there’s a pair of pipes that go across this site. I’m expecting Northern Gas Networks (NGN) to say ‘no chance’ and that’ll be an end to it.”

NGN would not be drawn on the details of the site and a spokesman said: “As the gas distribution network for the North, we do own and maintain gas assets in the area.

"Where developments are proposed which may affect our assets, we work closely with the relevant statutory bodies to ensure the correct processes are followed.”