BARNSLEY Council will fight a developer at a public inquiry as a ‘matter of principle’ - after the builder behind a proposed 250-home estate took action against the local authority.

Planning board members were told about the next steps of the inquiry - relating to Bellway Homes’ application for land off Lee Lane in Royston - on Tuesday. The row relates to Bellway submitting its application for land designated for up to 800 homes in Barnsley’s local plan - which sets out future development schemes up to 2033 - but took action when they deemed the council had delayed a decision for too long.

Head of planning Joe Jenkinson said: “We received the application but told Bellway that the site was still subject to a masterplan, which as yet has not been formalised.

“We explained that and last summer the ball started rolling for this - the developer seemed happy with holding off until such a thing was in place.

“However, they decided against that in the end and submitted an appeal with the planning inspectorate against the non-determination of the application. Fighting this is a matter of principle as the disbenefits of granting planning permission for piecemeal development ahead of the adoption of a masterplan framework are significant and manifest.

“A planning permission granted in breach of local plan policy would potentially prejudice the comprehensive delivery of the site and may not contribute towards the overarching requirements for infrastructure for the wider site.”

The council’s appointed a barrister for the hearing and identified witnesses who will be cross-examined - including Mr Jenkinson - which will begin on March 24.

“When we take land out of the green belt and re-allocate it for development, we have a duty to ensure it’s for the benefit of communities,” he said.

“The initial application did not seek to address any road infrastructure problems, schools or GP surgeries, so having a masterplan framework in place ensures this must happen.

“We’re hopeful that a summer consultation will take place and it’s very important developers respect the process.”

Coun Caroline Makinson, who represents the Royston ward, added: “Developers only seem interested in profit - they should not get away with not contributing to the community’s needs.”