Amazon Cleckheaton: Council will have ‘blood on their hands’ if new Amazon site goes ahead, protesters say

Kirklees council could have “blood on their hands” if a controversial new Amazon site is allowed to go ahead, it has been claimed.

Fears for the lives of those residing near the proposed site at Scholes, Cleckheaton, have been raised by protestors as HGVs could be directed past a local primary school if the plans get the green light.

Since being brought to the public’s attention, the controversial plans that would see a massive warehouse built on 59 acres of farmland at Scholes near Cleckheaton have received opposition from residents and councillors alike. Further controversy surrounded the development when it was revealed by the Local Democracy Reporting Service that Kirklees Council had been liaising with Amazon 12 months prior to the plans being made public.

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Campaign group Save Our Spen, representing the worries of some residents, have raised vocal opposition to the plans after painstakingly sifting through newly uploaded documents from the applicant. The group have taken particular issue with traffic issues around the site, which lies off Whitehall Road.

An artist's impression of the new warehouseAn artist's impression of the new warehouse
An artist's impression of the new warehouse

Under current proposals, the site will have two entry points – one on Whitehall Road, the A58, and the other on Whitechapel Road which has a primary school on it. Generally, the entrance will be used by staff members who live South of the site on their way to and from work. This is said to account for around 30% of all employees, which Save Our Spen says will equate to a minimum of 182 cars accessing the site each morning, seeing a sharp increase in traffic passing the local school.

On top of this, though the applicant has said that the Whitechapel Road entrance isn’t going to be used by HGVs on the whole, HGVs can use the entrance in times of emergency. This raises the question of what constitutes an emergency, and with the proposed start of the day shift falling between 7:30 and 8:00am – around the time local children will be walking to school, there have been fears raised for the safety of local children. One protestor said: “those councillors voting for this will have blood on their hands when a child is seriously injured or god forbid killed.”

In addition to concerns over the Whitechapel Road entrance, issues have been raised with the other entrance on Whitehall Road. Based on HGV movement figures it is projected that up to 44 HGVs could be entering and leaving the site every hour. The Revised Transport Plan says that the proposed development will have minimum impact on the local highway network – however, it is also stated within the same document that the Chain Bar interchange is already operating “over capacity”.

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Problems have also been highlighted with the suggested system of entering and exiting the site. The entrance on Whitehall Road, the A58, is proposed to be controlled via a traffic light system. Save Our Spen has envisioned that this would likely lead to HGV tailbacks into the busy A58, slowing down traffic and causing congestion.

In the proposed entry system, each vehicle would have to book a slot to enter the site, being allowed one hour either side of their slot to enter. Should they miss this slot, HGV drivers face being told to leave the premises and book a new slot. For this scenario, the applicant has provided a list of eight locations, petrol stations and service stations, where drivers are able to park up and wait for their new slot. However, a table presented by the applicant states that three of these locations contain toilet facilities, but Save Our Spen argues that in reality, there is just one. This raises the crucial question of how human waste would be disposed of at the sites without facilities.

The Transport Assessment has provided a number of potential mitigation measures for a number of the issues raised, including the widening of roads, but such measures have not been costed and have no timeframe. Save Our Spen also says that the current proposals are based on a very basic plan, which did not provide any traffic assessment, which was signed off in the local plan from 2019.

It was expected that the application would be next seen by Kirklees Council’s Strategic Planning Committee in December. However, this has now been postponed until the new year.