A CONTROVERSIAL scheme to build homes on a flood-prone ‘wildlife haven’ is set to be approved - despite more than 350 residents and Barnsley Central MP Dan urging planning bosses to dismiss the bid.

A group of residents, led by local man Richard Denton and Darton East’s Coun Steve Hunt, sprang into action to fight the proposals which could see outline permission granted for 73 homes on green space off Darton Lane, Darton, on Tuesday.

The Church Commissioners for England - the group behind the application - established in order 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.

However, 188 letters of objection were submitted during the first public consultation period, with another 165 being sent to Barnsley Council during the second, leading the MP to get involved due to residents’ concerns about traffic, wildlife and flooding.

A planning board report said: “Highways safety and drainage concerns have been addressed sufficiently at this stage for the application to be supported.

“In addition, the applicant has agreed to enter into a Section 106 agreement - cash set aside by developers for loss of amenity - to secure no net loss in biodiversity and obligations to ensure a compliant development with regards to necessary provisions in relation to green space, education, affordable housing and sustainable travel.

“The proposed is therefore recommended to members for approval.”

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

However, residents say the site is rich in wildlife - including kestrels, sparrow hawks and buzzards.

Coun Hunt added: “Everyone understands that due to a growing population there is a need for more housing in Barnsley but 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.

“This site is totally unsuitable for housing - there’s the ongoing threat from flooding but even bigger concerns come from traffic, which is already bad in Darton, and the impact this will have on wildlife.”

Dan echoed campaigners’ calls that the site was unsuitable for housing.

He told the Chronicle: “Having very carefully considered the detail of this planning application, I have concluded that the proposed development of land to the south of Darton Lane would do more harm than good for the village and surrounding area.

“I also believe that it will have a detrimental effect on existing residents’ quality of life and place a considerable burden on already stretched local services.

“We do need to ensure that there is a sustainable supply of housing - including homes that are genuinely affordable - to meet the needs of local people.

“However, this must always be carefully balanced against the impact of developments upon the local community and the need to protect our vital green spaces.”