People flock to drop-in event to see Amazon plans for site near Cleckheaton

Consultants working with online retail giant Amazon have met with local people to discuss the prospect of a massive fulfilment centre being built on farmland close to the M62 in Scholes.

By Tony Earnshaw, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 31st May 2022, 6:00 am

Scores of people turned up to see plans for the facility at a four-hour drop-in exhibition held at the Gomersal Park Hotel. Amazon even allowed campaign group Save Our Spen to have a table at the event to offer an opposing point of view.

And indeed there were differing opinions as to how the event played out. An Amazon spokesperson said the company was “delighted to have the opportunity to share information regarding the proposed fulfilment centre”, and that more than 180 people attended.

Save Our Spen said they were “inundated with people wanting to find out more about the campaign and the planning application”.

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The throng at the Amazon drop-in event, where both pro- and anti-responses were available for people to see

The controversial plans, which were made public a year ago, involve the creation of a huge centre on fields sandwiched between the A58 Whitehall Road and the B6120 Whitechapel Road at Scholes near Cleckheaton.

The 59-acre site is close to junction 26 of the M62 at Chain Bar. As planned it would be a third of a kilometre long, 178m wide and 23m high and could result in around 2,400 jobs, which planners at Kirklees Council say is “acceptable in principle” even though it exceeds the development capacity outlined in the council’s Local Plan.

They said the number of jobs – suggested last year to be around 1,500, now around 900 higher – would contribute towards the council’s target of delivering 23,000 jobs by 2031.

An Amazon spokesperson said last Wednesday’s drop-in “went really well” with “lots of questions” being asked.

A photo montage of the proposed Amazon warehouse from the A58 Halifax Road

The spokesperson added: “We were delighted to have the opportunity to share information regarding the proposed fulfilment centre, and answer questions about working at Amazon with more than 180 people from the local community.

"We were also pleased members of Save Our Spen were able to attend.”

A Save Our Spen spokesman agreed the event was “very well attended” and that it presented an opportunity for the group to speak directly with the individuals that had produced reports on air, noise and light levels as well as traffic reports which, they said, were “based solely on desktop modelling”.

The spokesperson added: “It is safe to say that the public had very little interaction with the Amazon representatives.

"However, we were inundated with people wanting to find out more about the campaign and the planning application.”

Save Our Spen conducted a straw poll that asked whether Kirklees Council should grant planning permission based on the current plans.

Of 95 people that completed the poll, all responded “no”.

Among those that visited the drop-in exhibition was local councillor Kath Pinnock (Lib Dem, Cleckheaton), who is opposing the Amazon proposals.

She described the event as “fascinating” and said: “There were more people round the Save Our Spen table than in the rest of the room.

"I don’t think Amazon had a good evening.”