PROPOSALS to build Europe’s largest delivery hub near junction 36 of the M1 which will cost £60m and provide 1,300 jobs are set to be approved by Barnsley Council next week - despite objectors urging planning bosses to reject the scheme.

Hermes, whose state-of-the-art plan relates to a former green belt site off Sheffield Road in Hoyland on land earmarked for development by the council, will have a 363,000sq ft footprint and be capable of processing 1.3 million parcels per day.

Councillors on the local authority’s planning board will meet on Tuesday to discuss the scheme - which has been earmarked for approval - despite a 1,700-signature petition against the site’s development.

The would-be facility, already named ‘Colossus’ by Hermes, has been scheduled for completion in just two years’ time if the green light is given.
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The scheme also includes associated works including access roads, landscaping and a new roundabout.

Residents living nearby - who have registered the petition as well as 96 individual responses - are concerned about increased traffic, pollution, poor quality jobs, lack of infrastructure and the size of the development which will have a 650-space car park and room for 595 HGVs.

A planning report said: “The site is designated within the council’s local plan as employment use and is in a highly strategic location close to the motorway and key trunk roads.

“At 49.3 hectares, the employment allocation accounts for over 16 per cent of all of the land allocated for employment in the local plan and almost half the land allocated for employment in Hoyland.

“It therefore has the potential to generate significant numbers of jobs both during construction and operationally. Once built, the proposal would lead to significant private sector investment being secured and platforms readied for further inward investors to accommodate local companies wishing to expand.

“Up to 1,300 jobs are proposed, of which 500 would be full-time and 800 flexible. Although objectors considered these are low quality poorly paid jobs the applicant has stated that of the 500, 22 per cent would be team leader or management roles with salaries of up to £80,000.

“The site was always envisaged to appeal to logistics uses due to its proximity to the M1 and since then other commercial uses have become less resilient due to the pandemic and wider economic uncertainty.

“Accordingly, in order to achieve the substantial economic benefits arising from the proposal, there are no obvious alternatives to this type of proposal on the proposed site.

“As such, given that the costs of funding the required infrastructure are so substantial and can only be met with a viable commercial scheme, these adverse impacts are considered unavoidable.”

Hermes’ planning application was received before the council finalised a ‘masterplan’ for the area, which developers wishing to build have to adhere to, but that snag does not give the council grounds to reject it, according to the report.

“Community involvement and publicity has been challenging throughout the current Covid-19 pandemic, but every effort has been made to undertake robust public consultation of the masterplan through online participation,” it added.

“Other objectors considered that the council should not have accepted the submission of a planning application prior to the adoption of the masterplan. However, the regulations do not allow the council to refuse to accept the submission of a valid planning application.”

Mark Goodison, of nearby Stead Lane, who started the petition, told the Chronicle objectors have not had their voices heard due to the ongoing pandemic.

“The land around Hoyland was ravaged decades ago by the mines but over the years has healed and was granted green belt status.

“It is now a valuable habitat for protected species which unlawfully - in my opinion - has been totally skated over and not mentioned.

“The timing and the way the consultations took place during lockdown excluded the voices of the seniors who make up a large demographic in Hoyland.

“As most were shielding they didn’t see the posters on lampposts and even if they did the artist impression chosen by the council looks like the creation of a park which I feel was to purposely mislead people.”