OPPOSITION is growing to proposals submitted to build 73 homes on a ‘wildlife haven’ in Darton - which saw more than 100 locals turn out to voice their concerns at a public meeting this week.

A group of residents, led by local man Richard Denton, are fighting the proposals which - if approved - could see the loss of a popular area of green space off Darton Lane.

They met at Staincross WMC on Tuesday evening to discuss the outline plans, which were recently submitted to Barnsley Council by applicant the Church Commissioners for England.

Richard said: “We cannot let this happen - we have been presented with a professionally-prepared planning application comprising more than 600 pages of technical documents that just do not reflect the negative impact this development will have on our community.

“We have been given just a few weeks to respond to this and despite these odds the local residents are nevertheless ready to fight this application.

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“We are determined to have our voice heard and to expose how this will do harm to our environment, infrastructure and neighbourhood.”

The Church Commissioners for England are a registered charity, established to manage historic assets, and are responsible for managing a property portfolio that includes commercial, rural and residential property as well as strategic land, forestry and indirect property investments.

The site has been designated for development purposes within Barnsley’s local plan, which sets out future housing and business growth for the next 15 years.

However, residents say the site is rich in wildlife - including kestrels, sparrow hawks and buzzards - and has been used by generations of local children, while concerns remain over flooding.

Coun Steve Hunt, who represents the Darton East ward for the Liberal Democrats, added: “I understand that due to a growing population there is a need for more housing in Barnsley. All plans submitted should be properly scrutinised and must take into account the views of local people.

“When it becomes clear through the planning process that sites are unsuitable, the council should look elsewhere. I have been contacted by dozens of residents who are extremely concerned about this development and the negative impact it will have on the area.

“An emerging issue is the risk of flooding which is growing each year as we see more extreme weather events. There has been a couple of flooding events on Darton Lane, adjacent to the proposed site, already this year.

“This site is totally unsuitable for housing and I am calling on the Church Commissioners to withdraw their proposal.”

Comments about the plan can be made on the council’s website until November 4.