A LAST-DITCH plea for Barnsley Council to scrap its plan to create a one-way road system through a popular park has been made ahead of the final decision which is set to be taken next week.

The council - whose planning board awarded permission for the controversial scheme off Dodworth Road before Christmas - had a statutory obligation to consult with the public as its plan impacts Penny Pie Park, land which is currently designated as public open space.

A report, which was compiled following the land appropriation consultation held in the spring, will be discussed at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday where councillors will decide whether or not the public space designation can be altered.

It reveals 105 objections were received - separate to an initial 2,700-signature petition - and a study carried out to assess the park’s usage in May concluded it was predominantly as a walking link between Pogmoor and Horizon Community College.

The report said: “There was high activity in the weekday at school finishing time by pupils and early evening on the Saturday by teenagers.

In Text Promo Image

“There was a steady flow of dog walkers, particularly on the Saturday, as well as the park being used as a short cut from Dodworth Road to Pogmoor

village.

“From the observations, Penny Pie Park is perceived to be used principally for informal recreational use, dog walking and as a walk through from residential areas.

“It is predicted that this scheme would greatly improve capacity for traffic on Dodworth Road in both directions, which would lead to less queuing.

“It is also important to recognise the detrimental impact on productivity as a result of increased journey times and the potential adverse impact on the town centre, which has previously experienced significant leakage of retail expenditure to out-of-town destinations such as Meadowhall.

“To address this the council is investing substantial amounts into regenerating the town centre, but for the benefits of these investments to be fully realised it will be important to ensure that key radial routes into and out of the town centre remain relatively free-flowing, particularly during peak times.

“The evidence therefore shows that there are compelling reasons to increase the capacity of the Dodworth Road, Broadway and Pogmoor Road junction based on existing congestion and committed development alone.

“Accordingly, encroachment into the public open space is unavoidable to address existing congestion and committed development. The increased capacity would also help accommodate further anticipated growth across the borough.

“On balance, the great weight attributed to the benefits of the scheme were considered to outweigh the substantial weight given to the adverse impacts.”

Coun Hannah Kitching told the Chronicle the council’s plan has already resulted in Labour’s Richard Riggs losing the Dodworth ward seat to Lib Dem Coun Peter Fielding and urged cabinet members to think twice.

“The council say they’re listening to its residents’ views but they haven’t during this whole scheme,” she said. “It’s time they shelved the plan and take it on the chin.

“The whole purpose of the appropriation consultation was to assess whether or not Penny Pie Park’s land is still required for the public’s use. It clearly is and the council’s own local plan document, which was finalised in January, suggests exactly that.

“To go against that is contradictory and it’s another case of the council being judge and jury on one of its own plans.”

The new report also says a road survey carried out by an independent firm, AECOM, backed the council’s own highways bosses by concluding that the road was operating at capacity.

However, campaigners confirmed they will hold a night-time vigil outside Barnsley Town Hall on Tuesday - the day before the cabinet meets - to stage one final protest in a bid to sway members’ minds.

Coun Fielding added: “Penny Pie Park is a treasured community asset and it needs to be maintained for our future generations to enjoy.

“It’s clearly against the public’s wishes and we’re urging the council to go back to the drawing board before it’s too late.”