MEMBERS of the public will be able to have their say on proposals to develop a large swathe of green belt land - but angry campaigners opposing the ‘damaging’ plan have accused Barnsley Council of not listening to its residents.

The site - known as Barnsley West MU1 - is bordered by Pogmoor, Higham, Gawber and Barugh Green and is currently open fields but 1,700 new homes, a new primary school and employment land with a link road connecting it to the M1 could be built on it in the future.

Ruling cabinet members approved a public consultation at a meeting held at Barnsley Town Hall on Wednesday, which will see a series of drop-in events organised and an online portal for residents to submit their opinions on the site’s future.

A masterplan project team has already been established consisting of council officers, the Barnsley West Consortium - which is a joint venture between Strata Homes and Sterling Capitol - and their agents for the 122-hectare site.

The consultation, council leader Sir Steve Houghton said, is designed to give the public a say on how the land - which is designated for development in its local plan blueprint - will be divided up.

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He added: “If we don’t decide how the site should look, we’ll be at the behest of developers who would be able to put in their own proposals for it. Residents can help shape it the best we can.

“It’s important we get engagement and although it’s different from the local plan’s consultation which came before, we need the right type of development on this site.

“It won’t be easy given the public’s concerns but it’s vitally important the members of the public have their say.”

Keep It Green 2014, which formed to fight against the scheme, blasted the council’s handling of recent public consultations such as the one for Penny Pie Park, which will be carved up in order to create a new one-way road system off junction 37 of the M1.

Former Barnsley Central MP and Pogmoor resident Eric Illsley, a member of Keep It Green 2014, said: “It’s only now that we’re getting into the true detail of this damaging scheme. Its scale is scary - 1,700 homes is effectively a new village and if you say there’s going to be two-and-a-half people per house, that’s 5,000 residents.

“We’ll continue to fight it but we believe that from day one the council knew what it wanted - as it did with Penny Pie Park - and will nod it through because what they say goes.

“However, what we do want as many people as possible to do is voice their opinions on this to show once again just how much opposition there is.”