A large scale engineering factory could be built on green belt land if Kirklees Council gets its way.
At the public inquiry into the council’s development masterplan, officials revealed why they want to allow fields between Gomersal and Scholes to be built on.
The site, close to the junction of the M606, is earmarked for industrial use in the planning policy blueprint – the Local Plan.
At the hearing at the Hudawi Centre in Huddersfield, opponents of the idea had the chance to air their views.
A spokesperson for the council’s planning policy team told the inspector that there were very few sites available for large manufacturing businesses.
“We’re failing to meet the needs of large businesses to drive forward advanced manufacturing and precision engineering,” they said.
“The green belt is genuinely the only area where we can resource sites of sufficient scale with access to the M62.”
A spokesman for the Spen Valley Civic Society (SVCS) led the defence of the land, between Whitechapel Road and Whitehall Road.
They said: “65% of this site could be used for warehousing – that’s a concern.
“We recognise we need land for jobs, so we don’t object in principle for the use of some of this land, but the Spen Valley area is taking half the green field employment allocation for the whole of Kirklees.”
SVCS said it was concerned that a “huge building” would be put on the skyline and urged that there were no “tin sheds” along the front of Whitechapel Road at Scholes.
Mike Dove, an industrial estate agent representing the land owner, said it was unlikely that any “Amazon style sheds” would be put up as the land wasn’t flat enough.
Planning Inspector Katie Child said: “Obviously this is a green belt site so there needs to be exceptional circumstances.”
“We don’t think there are any in this case,” said Robert Bamforth, representing the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE),
“Being a site on an economic wish list does not in itself constitute exceptional circumstances.”
Mr Bamforth said CPRE did not feel the council had explored enough brown field sites in the borough.
He added: “In reality we’re allowing the merger of Kirklees and Bradford.
“We also have the large plans at North Bierley water treatment plant.
“If these two sites are developed they will close half the gap.
“The motorway queues for one mile here at peak times, is this allocation necessary and is it the place to put it – we don’t believe it is.”