A FAMOUS Huddersfield firm moved a step closer to moving to new premises last night.
Councillors backed David Brown Gears’ proposal to build a global centre of excellence and a wind innovation centre in Mirfield.
The iconic Huddersfield firm plans to move 270 of its 450 staff from its ageing headquarters in Lockwood to the new development between Leeds Road and Slipper Lane.
David Brown Gears general manager Wayne Ball urged councillors to back the plan yesterday.
He told Kirklees Council’s Heavy Woollen Planning Sub-Committee: “Some of our buildings are 100 years old and the site is very difficult to operate. This year we had to spend two weeks stripping down a machine tool so we could get it into the factory.”
Mr Ball added that the greenfield site at Mirfield Moor was the only option within Kirklees.
“We wanted to use a brownfield site and we looked within a 10-mile radius but we decided it would be too difficult to modify the buildings. We need a bespoke building,” he said.
“We have a great reputation but we’re constrained by our existing premises. If we don’t move the business forward then other countries including France and Germany will take those orders.”
David Brown Gears has asked Kirklees for permission to develop one-third of the seven-hectare site known as Mirfield 25.
The council has allocated the land for development.
Some residents and councillors objected to the proposal at yesterday’s meeting at Dewsbury Town Hall.
Dewsbury South Conservative Clr Khizar Iqbal called for the new buildings to be set back further from the road.
“We originally set a condition for a 30 metre buffer zone and that should be maintained. There’s a significant difference between 30 metres and the 10 metres which the developer has proposed.”
Clr Iqbal added: “I haven’t heard a single word from anyone about how this is going to create jobs in Mirfield.”
Mirfield Conservative Clr Kath Taylor also spoke against the plan.
“David Brown’s don’t appear to be generous in what they are offering the town,” she said.
“The people who are benefiting from this are David Brown – certainly not my ward.”
Mirfield man Keith Andrews accused the council of “dumping stuff” in north Kirklees.
“David Brown’s is walking into a trap,” he said. “They do not appreciate how awful the roads around the site are.”
The sub-committee voted nine to four to send the proposal to the council’s Planning and Highways Committee, which will meet next month.
All seven Labour sub-committee members voted to send the Mirfield proposal to the next stage.
They were chairman Clr Paul Kane of Dewsbury East; Clr Amanda Stubley and Clr Mahmood Akhtar of Batley East; Heckmondwike’s Clr Steve Hall, Clr Cathy Scott from Dewsbury East; Clr Darren O’Donovan of Dewsbury West and Clr Mohan Sokhal from Greenhead.
The two Cleckheaton Lib Dems – Clr Andrew Pinnock and Clr John Lawson also backed David Brown Gears.
Four Conservatives voted against – Clr Iqbal, Clr Taylor, Clr Salim Patel of Dewsbury South and Clr Elaine Ward from Denby Dale.
Kirkburton Tory Clr Adrian Murphy abstained.
If Kirklees approves the plans, construction will begin between April and June of next year, with the company moving operations in several stages before completion in the autumn of 2013.
The firm’s Lockwood site would be reduced from 17 acres to six.