But members of Kirklees Council’s strategic planning committee said the proposal before them lacked detail and that the benefits of employment could be outweighed by traffic, noise and the impact of a 24/7 operation on the area.
Council planning staff said the complex and significant nature of the project meant it was important for the committee to see and become familiar with what was being considered.
Committee chairman Coun Steve Hall (Lab, Heckmondwike) expressed relief that the plan had been unveiled.
He said: “I’ve had to keep this thing under my hat for about the last nine months. I must admit it certainly shakes you when you see how big it is.”
The 59-acre site between Whitehall Road, Whitechapel Road and the M62 will be entirely given over to a huge building that would be a third of a kilometre long, 178m wide and 23m high.
Space would be allocated for nearly 200 HGVs as well as 900 cars and vans leading to concerns that local routes – including the Chain Bar junction – could become clogged.
Agents for the scheme said it would be constructed so that it blended in with the undulating topography of the fields, and would be landscaped.
Two access points are planned: one for HGV traffic on Whitehall Road, with immediate proximity to the M62, and one from Whitechapel Road for non-HGVs, employee vehicles and “hopper” buses to bring staff to the site.
The site is allocated for employment use as part of the council’s controversial Local Plan.
Members of the committee were not convinced that local people would benefit from the hundreds of jobs being created.
And there were fears that the classification of the site allowed it to be given over to any use if the warehouse plan foundered.
One councillor said: “We could end up with anything. It could be even worse.”
Veteran Lib Dem councillor Andrew Pinnock, who represents Cleckheaton, expressed consternation at the sheer size of what was being proposed, as well as the lack of detail. He questioned why it had been brought to committee.
He said: “There are so many holes in what we’ve been told
“All we can say at the moment is that it’s big and it might have quite a large impact.
“Kirklees has not got anything at all like this. In fact I’m not all sure there’s anything like this anywhere in West Yorkshire.”
The Conservatives’ Coun Mark Thompson, who represents nearby Birstall and Birkenshaw, was not convinced by what he saw.
“This monolith, this monochromed liquorice allsort that they’re talking about putting in here, is totally inappropriate for the town [and] the surrounding area.
“If we did want to do something with local people for employment, surely it should be small individual units that would employ local [people] and expand local businesses rather than this giant blot on the landscape that we’ve been offered.”
He felt jobs would go to out-of-town shift employees working at a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week operation that would produce noise and wagons “all day, every day” and inconvenience local people.
Officers said the site’s closeness to the M62 was a key element in its attractiveness to the developer.
They said “virtually 100 per cent” of HGV traffic would go out of the facility and onto the motorway at Chain Bar, meaning trucks would not “trail through districts on more local roads”.
They added: “From a Kirklees point of view the impact from the HGVs won’t be much.”