The snub has led to cries of foul from the campaign group Save Our Spen, which has vociferously opposed the project, and which has further criticised consultants ISG Retail (Bristol) Limited for choosing a venue outside the locality.
Plans to build a giant warehouse on 59 acres of sloping farmland close to junction 26 of the M62 motorway emerged last year. Online giant Amazon was confirmed as the company behind the contentious proposals in March.
The plan has been broadly opposed by local people, Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater, and Lib Dem, Green and Conservative members of Kirklees Council.
Among the concerns are air, noise and light pollution, the safety of schoolchildren, other pedestrians and the residents of Whitechapel Road who would be affected by a significant increase in traffic, as well as related issues at nearby Chain Bar and the A58 Whitehall Road.
Now the Amazon plan is to be the focus of a public drop-in exhibition and information sharing event at Gomersal Park Hotel in Gomersal on May 26 from 3.30pm to 7.30pm.
In an email sent to people who responded to the pre-application consultation it says “there will be display boards on show and representatives on hand from the development’s technical consultant team to answer questions about the specific details of the planning application.”
A spokesperson for Save Our Spen said: “At this moment in time, it appears the residents of Whitechapel Road and Bradford Road, Cleckheaton have not received their invitations – including Save our Spen.
“The location of the exhibition in Gomersal is a pretty difficult place to visit if using public transport. It begs the question as to why the organisers have chosen a location outside of the council ward where the warehouse is planned to be built. There are several potential locations within the Cleckheaton ward where such an exhibition could be held.”
Save Our Spen described the exhibition as “a public relations exercise on the part of the developers” but the group said it welcomed the opportunity for the local community to engage with developers and seek answers to what it called “the many real issues this development would bring to Scholes and the wider area.”
Among those who questioned the choice of location was Councillor Martyn Bolt (Con, Mirfield), who suggested “myriad venues” including local schools, libraries or even pubs could have hosted the event “at the drop of a hat”.
He said: “By using Gomersal they couldn’t have got further away from the development site without going out of Kirklees. If you don’t have a car or aren’t in the best of health it’s not easy
to get there. There’s one bus and then a 10-minute walk to the venue.”
He added: “At the moment it can be described as clumsy at best and downright awkward in terms of engaging with local people. But people should try and go along. Effective opposition is always based on getting information from the developer and not giving anything away.”
Councillor Andrew Cooper (Green, Newsome) said: “Amazon clearly have got a lot of work to do to build trust in the community. Failing at the first hurdle on consultation is not a good start. They need to understand the huge level of community concern about this issue, and make it easier for local people to have their voices heard.”
Tony Earnshaw, Local Democracy Reporting Service