Man claims giant warehouse plan has knocked £100,000 off value of his house

A man believes the value of the home he bought earlier this year may have plummeted by £100,000 after it emerged a massive distribution facility is being planned just yards away.

Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 2:00 pm
An artist's impression of the planned giant warehouse and distribution centre

Dave Hicks says he should have been made aware via a land search that the huge warehouse, which has been linked to online retailer Amazon, was being earmarked for 59 acres of farmland at Scholes, near Cleckheaton, across the road from his house.

But his complaint – and a request for compensation – has been rejected by Kirklees Council, which says it abided by the law in releasing information about the area.

That has left Mr Hicks feeling “disgusted”. He says he wishes he had never bought his home on Whitechapel Road, which will face onto a staff entrance and bus station if the distribution centre gets the go-ahead.

He says high-level meetings between senior staff, politicians and agents for the developer have not been minuted. Consequently they were not provided in response to a Freedom of Information request.

He has also submitted a formal complaint in relation to council leader Coun Shabir Pandor who, with the-then deputy leader Coun Peter McBride, requested that a public consultation exercise on the scheme be delayed until after May’s local elections.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service he fumed: “There’s a lot of big gaps in the information I’ve received.

“It’s all being done behind closed doors. The secrecy is appalling. They’ve been in cahoots with the developer.

“What we don’t know is what was agreed between Coun Pandor and the developer to postpone their announcement [on the engagement]. Did they promise it would go through? We don’t know because there’s no documented process.

“Why would you not have minutes [of meetings] from something as big as this?”

Coun Pandor has been sharply criticised for comments he made to colleagues in which he revealed he was backing the Amazon scheme on the basis of its promised 1,500 jobs.

Mr Hicks added: “The information on the warehouse was never made available to me when I was buying my home.

“Morally the council should have told me. It affects the house price and where I want to live.

“Legally they don’t have to [inform me]. I estimate I’ve lost £100,000 on the value of my house.”

In response to Mr Hicks’ concerns the council’s senior planning officer John Ritchie wrote: “Requests from developers for comments on a proposal prior to the submission of a planning application are not one of the items required to be declared on a Local Land Search.

“They are informal requests for initial comments to assist a developer to decide whether or not to make a planning application and what matters need to be addressed.

“As they are not formal applications for planning permission, this authority does not publicise them on the website.

“In this case the applicant also requested that the enquiry was kept confidential due to commercial sensitivity.

“Pre-application engagement is encouraged in national planning advice as a means to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the planning application system.

“Whilst it is a consideration in a future planning application, it does not pre-determine the outcome.”

He added: “I cannot agree to your request for financial compensation.”

Coun Pandor said: “As the leader of Kirklees Council, it’s a really important part of my role to attract investors to our borough to boost our local economy and provide more opportunities and jobs for local people.

“However, where planning applications are concerned, there is a fair and open planning process where decisions are made publicly by a cross-party committee based on the balance of the economic, environmental and social impacts the scheme will have.”

The 59-acre site on land between Whitehall Road, Whitechapel Road and the M62, is considered “acceptable in principle” to planning officers with the council as it would contribute towards the authority’s target of delivering 23,000 jobs by 2031.

This has been disputed by local campaigners who say Amazon sites in other parts of the country have not delivered on their employment promises.