PLANS for a £40 million extension to the retail park at junction 27 off the M62 could be blocked amid concerns about the potential hazard posed by a nearby chemicals firm.

The developer behind the scheme for an underused site on the edge of the retail park in Birstall, wants to build eight new retails units, creating 300 jobs.

The site is adjacent to DW Sports and Fitness off Gelderd Road away from the majority of retailers. But the Health and Safety Executive has warned that a large part of the site is within the inner control zone of neighbouring chemicals firm Tennants Distribution.

Planners at Kirklees Council do not object to the scheme on policy grounds as it has satisfied both retail sequential tests and an impact assessment. However the HSE has indicated it is giving "very serious consideration" to requesting the Government call-in the application given its concerns.

In a a report to the authority's strategic planning committee, planners state: "The HSE are giving serious thought to requesting the Secretary of State call this in given the relationship of the proposed site to the hazardous installation.

"The site currently has a mixed range of employment uses on it with about 45-50 people employed on the site 24-hours a day. The proposal would result in up to 300 people being employed plus customers during opening hours.

"This represents a significant increase in the number of people present within the site, particularly the inner zone."

It adds: "Whilst the likelihood of a major accident occurring is small it is prudent for the planning process to consider the risks to people in the vicinity of the hazardous installation."

The scheme itself is for outline planning permission, with developer Sir Robert Ogden Estates aiming to regenerate an "underutilised brownfield site".

The land is 3.2 hectare in size at the junction of Gelderd Road and Bankwood Way and part of the site currently has a number of low-grade industrial uses, including storage, a pallet business and car wash.

The new development would be known as Centre 27 Retail Park. Documents accompanying the planning application, state: "The application site is immediately adjacent to the Junction 27 Retail Park and Birstall Shopping Park, which together form the largest and most successful retail warehouse location in the sub-region, popular with occupiers and shippers.

"The site is therefore part of a well-established retail location which benefits from a range of planning permissions allowing a wide range of goods to be d including food and drink, along with leisure uses such as cinema and gym.

"The proposal represents a logical extension to those established uses."

The eight units would provide 14,562 sq m of retail floor space and 453 car parking spaces, and the matter will go before the Council's strategic planning committee on Friday, February 15.

Further unrelated plans are also being considered by Kirklees planners to build a further four large retail units between this Sir Robert Ogden Estates proposals and the Showcase cinema.

This site, known as the Centre 27 Business Park, has already seen eight office blocks off Bankwood Way being demolished following approval last year.

The application by London-based property company AEW UK states these were demolished after a failure to attract occupiers for the units, which had "structure issues" and did not offer the "standard and specification" required.

A decision has yet to be made on these plans.