Decision on Morley industrial estate plans put on hold

Plans to build a new industrial estate in Morley have been postponed, as Leeds City Council planning chiefs say more work needs to be done to ensure the site is not a disruption to local people.

By Richard Beecham
Friday, 26th November 2021, 4:45 am

It follows impassioned speeches from both a local parish councillor, and the developer, both against and for the planned Capitol Park scheme just off Dewsbury Road and Topcliffe Lane.

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But those objecting said it would lead to traffic problems, the destruction of nearby green belt and noise and light pollution.

An artist's impression of the planned new industrial estate in Morley

Members of the council’s City Plans Panel met to discuss the outline proposals, after a report by council officers recommended the site for approval in principle.

Objecting to the plans, Morley town councillor Oliver Newton said: “There is so much at stake for the area. Traffic, environment, noise, light pollution that are all grave concerns for the residents. The report that came out last week completely disregards residents. Out of these 221 paragraphs, four are on the topic of residents.

“The units will operate 24/7, with the issues of noise and light pollution that come with that. Not only HGVs, but the 1,300 parking spaces.

“The report states that the effects during construction are negligible, but that’s wrong. Who wants to live and walk adjacent to a building site and the nuisance that entails.

“Everyone in Leeds knows that this is a bottleneck junction. There will be a new group of vehicles coming from Capitol Park.

“It’s not just going to affect Morley, but the whole of West Yorkshire.”

He added that the number of jobs proposed on the site had decreased, and that there were plenty of other industrial units in the area which could be used instead.

According to a Leeds City Council planning document, the masterplan for the site lists five buildings with a total floorspace of 102,890 square metres, as well as 1,315 parking spaces.

The report added that the scheme is proposed to be finished by mid-2025, but that this was dependent on “market buoyancy”.

Planning consultant Hannah Richardson, acting on behalf of the applicant, Sterling Capitol Plc, said: “The principle of development has been established. A small part of the site lies in the green belt, however, it will be used for landscaping, ponds and footpaths into Morley and beyond.

“The area will be managed and maintained for biodiversity in the long term. We do recognise a scheme of this scale will have impacts, however, we have been working hard to mitigate these impacts and have amended this scheme in several ways.

“We have agreed an improvement scheme for junction 28 worth £8m.”

Coun Dan Cohen (Con) asked: “You gave the impression that this was widely supported, however looking at the report, it seems only five out of 398 responses were supported.

“Is it the position of the developers that the people elected by Morley residents and all those objectors are somehow misguided and they are just wrong?”

A spokesman for the developer said: “I don’t think we are saying it’s wrong, we are saying that the proposal in front of you has huge benefits for Morley. We have discussed jobs creation for the people of Morley. We are linking ourselves with Morley to see how we can deliver jobs and apprenticeships.

“We are not saying residents are wrong, we have listened to objections and have made changes to the scheme to try and make changes to those objections.”

Commenting on the scheme, Coun Colin Campbell said: “I have concerns in relation to the principle we have been asked to accept, which is the layout.

“There is no end user to the site, at the moment it is semi-speculative, so I don’t think it’s important that we agree a layout, but rather we wait until reserved matters to see what is required on the site.”

Coun Robert Finnigan (MBI) suggested the scheme needed to be deferred, adding: “We need to have more ambition at this particular point.

“There is an issue about congestion that is going to get worse. A deferral does seem to be reasonable to look at relocating some of these units as far away from residential as possible.

“We need clarity on the green belt question.”

Coun Elizabeth Nash (Lab) said: “On the map that we have, the warehouses four and five, it is just ridiculous – it is on top of a hill. I do not see how anyone can agree to that.”

Coun Dan Cohen (Con) said: “This is going to be a 24 hour logistics operation. We were told explicitly that it would make sense for HGV drivers to avoid daytime driving.

“This is going to bring significant noise and light pollution. This being a 24-hour site is completely unacceptable, so close to residential properties.”

Coun Caroline Gruen (Lab) said: “We often find ourselves deferring things for discussion on things we feel uncomfortable about, don’t like very much and feel we don’t want to make a snap decision.

“But there is only sense in deferring it if there is a chance of moving forward. We are looking for something different.”

The panel voted to defer a decision, instructing the developers to look again at moving two of the planned warehouses further away from nearby houses.

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