CAMPAIGNERS whose behaviour was described as ‘downright disgusting’ by senior councillors during a public consultation over plans to build up to 1,700 homes on open fields have accused leaders of not listening to the town’s residents.

The site, designated Barnsley West MU1, has been earmarked for housing, a 300-place primary school and employment land and is part of the town’s local plan, which sets out a blueprint for new housing and employment sites until 2033.

A report, outlining the scheme’s details as shaped by feedback from public consultation events in October, was approved by cabinet members last week and formally adopted at yesterday’s full council meeting - despite multiple councillors voting against it.

It was revealed that a link road - designed to ease congestion on Higham Common Road - will be created ‘early on’ but only after 237 homes are built on the site, according to council leader Sir Steve Houghton.

Coun Hannah Kitching told yesterday’s meeting: “We believe this framework was a predetermined conclusion as it’s a developer’s world out there.

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“If Barnsley Council went out there and asked residents if they wanted this development, which let’s not forget is in the green belt, they would hear a resounding ‘no’.

“Communities do not feel like they’re being heard - the council does not listen to its public and their views are dismissed.”

Couns Sharon Howard and Jim Andrews condemned the alleged actions of members of Keep It Green 2014 during the consultations, telling fellow ruling cabinet members that the campaigners ‘would not listen to reason’.

However, those criticised by the councillors last week have hit back, telling the Chronicle that there’s a belief across Barnsley that the council has shown a ‘reluctance’ to listen to its public following a high-profile row over Penny Pie Park in the Dodworth ward, which has been fenced off to the public in order for a new road to be created.

A spokesman from Keep It Green 2014 said: “It has to be said that once again, as with the adoption of the local plan, there does appear to be an unhealthy rush to get reports through the cabinet and full council procedures.

“Whether the council has ever wanted to understand residents’ concerns is open to question, since it has always appeared that the council and promoters of MU1 have been determined to use the local plan to achieve their aims at the expense and destruction of 122 hectares of green belt land.

“The people of Barnsley do not want to see this happen, and the same can be said for Penny Pie Park. The council is frightened to come out and be confronted on its unpopular policies and daren’t face up to their electorate.”

The masterplan framework discussed at full council states that the consultation process allowed the local community around MU1 - bordered by Pogmoor, Higham, Gawber and Barugh Green - to help shape the development in a ‘comprehensive manner’, but this claim was disputed by campaigners.

Coun Peter Fielding, who put forward an amendment which was rejected, added: “I accept that MU1 has been adopted in the council’s local plan and there’s a full intention to proceed with what is a massive development.

“It is important it meets the needs and protects the interests of current and future residents, but I don’t believe this does that. It will effectively hand over control to the developers who have lobbied and cajoled Barnsley Council for many years for this lucrative area.

“It does not support local residents and a phasing of the planned works needs to be much more specific.”