Amazon warehouse plan: MP wants to lift 'veil of secrecy' over Cleckheaton proposals

Batley & Spen Labour MP Kim Leadbeater wants to lift the veil of “secrecy” over plans for a giant ‘Amazon’ warehouse in Cleckheaton.

Ms Leadbeater has called for residents campaigning against the 23-metre high (75ft) warehouse to be given all the facts.

ISG Retail has submitted plans for the warehouse off Whitehall Road, Scholes, close to Chain Bar off the M62.

Residents have formed a campaign group Save Our Spen (SOS) and put in a Freedom of Information request for copies of all correspondence between Kirklees Council and the developers.

Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater

Neither the developers nor Amazon will confirm that the warehouse is for Amazon, even though ISG have fronted the construction of several UK sites for the US retail giant. That lack of transparency has fuelled “secrecy” fears.

Ms Leadbeater, who raised the issue in Parliament with Housing and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick on Monday, warned that applications “should never be shrouded in secrecy.”

She added: “Planning decisions, large or small, should be made with the utmost transparency and local people should never be kept in the dark.

“I will be holding an early meeting with planning officers at Kirklees and I am writing to the developers to ask them to be as open as possible. The fact that we don’t even know for sure it’s an Amazon warehouse cannot be right.”

Ms Leadbeater sought an assurance that, despite changes to planning laws, local people would retain the right to be fully informed and be able to object to planning applications. Mr Jenrick said they would.

Sharon Lewis, chairman of SOS, said the group’s Freedom of Information request to Kirklees Council was overdue but the council had promised a reply this week.

SOS has set up a GoFundMe page to raise £5,000 to pay for a planning consultant to fight their case. More than £3,000 has been raised so far and a consultant has been appointed.

The warehouse, which promises up to 1,500 jobs and 800 during construction, is almost as tall as the spire on Scholes church and is the length of three full-size football pitches.

SOS says the scale of the warehouse does not comply with the Local Plan which allows for employment use on 10.68 hectares on the site. The current plans cover 23 hectares.