Environmental Threat of Huge Amazon Warehouse

Kirklees Cycling Campaign has lodged an objection to the proposed development of a large Amazon warehouse and fulfilment centre close to Chain Bar roundabout near Cleckheaton, which is adjacent to the Spen Valley Greenway (NCN 66)

The submission included concern at the impact of the operation of the proposed warehouse on traffic levels and air pollution. Its impact will be felt by people living close to the site, those accessing local schools and sports facilities and using the Greenway.

Cycling Threat by Amazon Fulfilment Centre?

Kirklees Planning application: 2021/62/92603/E – objection to proposed development on land to the west of the M62 and south of Whitehall Road (A58)

Kirklees Cycling Campaign wishes to comment on the impact of the proposed development of a large Amazon a fulfilment centre to the west of the M62 and south of Whitehall Road A58 (close to Chain Bar roundabout) on the future development of cycling in Kirklees and Bradford.

We are concerned at the impact on cycling of the operation of the proposed warehouse and on people living in the neighbourhoods close to the site, including those accessing local schools and sports facilities. 

The proposed development will have a negative impact upon local highways. The projected traffic movements are on a scale that cannot readily be absorbed by the road systems that link to Whitehall Road and Whitechapel Road. 

We note that the location of this proposed development is adjacent to the Spen Valley Greenway which is part of National Cycle Network (NCN 66) which connects Bradford and Low Moor railway station to the site and to Cleckheaton and Dewsbury. It is far more than a “footpath”. Rather it is an integral part of our transport network. Given the aspirations to increase cycling by a substantial amount over the coming decade to achieve Net Zero 2038, this critical infrastructure should not be undervalued.

We believe that this traffic congestion will increase the attraction of the Spen Valley Greenway to employees and visitors to the site. In addition, it will eventually provide a route for the Amazon fulfilment centre to make local deliveries using e-cargo bikes.

In the light of this we are proposing there should be developer support for establishing new cycling infrastructure in local roads that serve the site, as well as improvements to the Spen Valley Greenway that offers established cycling infrastructure and its ongoing maintenance.

The operation of the warehouse 
The application states that there will be 1500 – 1700 employees rising to 2000 – 2400 over the next 3 years. Traffic analysis from the applicant is based upon two shifts of 675 people. However, business projections indicate two shifts projected to rise to 1200 people each within 3 years.

To accommodate employees and visitors there are 892 car parking spaces, 45 motorbike spaces and 88 bicycle spaces. The number of cycle parking spaces appears inadequate for a shift of 1200 people and should be significantly increased. Facilities for charging e-bikes should be also included.  

Kirklees Highways recommended a roundabout to give priority to traffic on the A58. Latest plans from the developer appear to have overlooked this as they show a set of traffic lights on the junction with Whitehall Road. 

The amended plans retain Whitechapel Road as a point of entry and exit, contrary to the Kirklees Council recommendation. This point of entry should be retained for sole use of pedestrians and cyclists. If employees’ vehicles use this entry/exit point, rather than the one on to Whitehall Road, where they would have to wait for traffic lights, this will also have a negative effect on residential areas. It may also be used by light vans as part of the development is set to become a fulfilment centre.

The applicant has identified 37 outbound van docks and 24 inbound docks, 2 non inventory docks and 19 additional truck docks, leading to an assumption that there will be at least 44 HGVs entering and subsequently exiting the site every hour. This would result in HGVs entering and exiting the site almost every minute which would result in the A58 traffic flow being frequently interrupted to allow entry/exit from the Amazon site. 

There is also capacity for establishing van docks allowing part of this development to become a fulfilment centre. This could also lead to the use of e-cargo bikes for local deliveries, which are being introduced by Amazon in other parts of UK. 

The impact on the local community
Major roads close to the site are heavily congested on most working days and this development would only lead to increased traffic jams, waiting times and the associated negative health, noise and environmental issues. 

Traffic is already adopting alternative routes on local residential roads (e.g. through Hunsworth and Birkenshaw) to avoid Chain Bar. For people (and school students) seeking to cycle, this is of concern as it will affect the uptake of cycling and walking. In Whitechapel Road there is a school playing field used in the evening by various local sports clubs, two sets of local school children (secondary and primary) walk past the entrance to go to/from school and there is a cemetery immediately adjoining the proposed site.

if this application is approved, we believe that the impact of additional traffic on residential areas will increase, leading to increased accidents, deterioration in road safety and worsening standards of air quality. This indicates a need for exploring “Low Traffic Neighbourhoods” to ensure traffic is discouraged from finding routes through residential areas.
Air Quality
We must assume the levels of pollution at the site – and on the routes pupils and students use to access schools – are likely to rise as the traffic levels rise. Increases in traffic would contribute to a worsening of air quality and a subsequent impact on the health of residents and young people travelling to and from this area for school and sports. 
According to latest research undertaken by Imperial College for the Address Pollution National Campaign (see www.addresspollution.org) the current levels of NO2, PM2.5, and PM10 at the two schools close to the site are already considerable in excess of World Health Organisation limits.

We are concerned that the poor air quality will act as a deterrent to cycling in the surrounding area by the residents, even with easy access to the Spen Valley Greenway.

The second set of plans referring to noise and air pollution appear to be based upon 1350 people (employees) entering the site on a daily basis (not including HGV and transit van drivers) and are an underestimate of the projected 2400 employees included in the business plan.
If this application is approved, we propose that the developer be required to support the establishment of cycling infrastructure from the proposed roundabout on Whitehall Road and from the Greenway that links to Bradford and Dewsbury. A Section 106 agreement should be put in place to contribute to improvements to the Greenway, other local paths and ensuring there is on-road cycling infrastructure. We also propose a contribution to the ongoing maintenance of this part of NCN Route 66, which is overseen by national cycling charity Sustrans (in collaboration with Kirklees and Bradford Councils and West Yorkshire Combined Authority through its City Connect programme) should be included. 

This is an updated version of the KCC objection submitted to Kirklees Council on 6th May 2022. Comments on the Amazon application are now open until 31st May.