Fears massive Amazon site near Cleckheaton won’t deliver on jobs

There are doubts that thousands of jobs promised as part of plans for a massive Amazon fulfilment centre on farmland at Scholes, near Cleckheaton, will materialise.

By Tony Earnshaw, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Friday, 25th March 2022, 2:00 pm
The farmland near Cleckheaton that has been earmarked for a 'monstrous' warehouse for online giant Amazon
The farmland near Cleckheaton that has been earmarked for a 'monstrous' warehouse for online giant Amazon

Campaigners opposed to the scheme, earmarked for a 59-acre site between Whitehall Road, Whitechapel Road and junction 26 of the M62, have questioned the employment figures associated with the proposals.

Last year planning officers on Kirklees Council said it was “acceptable in principle” due to the 1,500 jobs it would create. That number has since swelled to 2,400.

But objectors say other Amazon sites where green fields have been bulldozed have failed to deliver on jobs.

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The Amazon indicative masterplan (March 2022) showing A: solar panels on warehouse roof; B: green roof over car park/welfare area; C: planting along Whitechapel Road; D: bund with landscaping; E: revised junction with traffic lights for HGVs

At Haydock near St Helens figures of between 2,500 and 5,000 jobs were quoted with “employment opportunities” providing justification for building a “sortation” centre. Locals say 90 per cent have failed to materialise.

Similar fears are now emerging in the Spen Valley where objectors say the perceived benefits of the Amazon facility are outweighed by the “disbenefits”.

Coun John Lawson (Lib Dem, Cleckheaton) is unconvinced by the big numbers of anticipated jobs associated with the Amazon site.

He said: “When you start to examine that closely it perhaps risks not delivering its promise.

Coun John Lawson, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Kirklees Council

“If these jobs don’t materialise, there’s nothing the council can do as a local authority to hold Amazon to that promise because there’s no mechanism to enforce it. And by then it’ll be a done deed.”

He added: “What does Cleckheaton gain from losing one of its last remaining green spaces?

"The promise of jobs is tenuous. It’s quite thin.

“So we’re in unknown territory. We don’t know that this is going to deliver jobs – but we know what’s going to be lost.”

Coun Lawson criticised the proximity of the Amazon site to Scholes village and said local roads faced being swamped by hundreds of HGV movements every day on a 24/7 operation.

He contrasted the location with another Amazon facility at Doncaster, which, he said, was “miles away from any residential area”.

He suggested the Scholes site was better placed as a science park for one of the county’s universities.

He said: “In the end there will be something built on that land because it’s in the Kirklees Local Plan, something we as Liberal Democrats voted against.

“But why can’t it be something prestigious involving high-quality apprenticeships and career jobs with progression?

“It’s in a prime position with connections to the motorway, yet it’s being sold at bottom dollar.

“The value of the Amazon jobs is a concern. We don’t know how many senior management posts will be local appointments or whether they will be existing Amazon staff dropped in to the facility.

“How many of the other jobs are going to be permanent? And how many will be low-skilled or unskilled?

“Employment is a main plank of the Amazon application.

"They are trying to swing all the disbenefits with one big benefit: jobs.”

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