CONTROVERSIAL plans to develop a swathe of land in Royston have been approved by Barnsley Council’s ruling cabinet members - despite a 700-strong petition.

The Royston masterplan - known as site MU5 - will pave the way for up to 994 homes, a £6m primary school and other community facilities off Lee Lane.

Since the plans were laid out by the council, they have been heavily contested by local residents who claim work will cause mass congestion on the road and a knock-on impact on wildlife.

Coun Tim Cheetham, cabinet spokesperson for regeneration and culture, said: “We understand this is a significant development as part of the local plan, however we have been honest that we need to develop some areas of the borough.

“The Royston masterplan makes sure this site delivers on all aspects of high-quality housing, supporting road networks, school provision, sustainability and green spaces.

“It is very much a long-term development, which will meet the housing needs of our residents.

“The masterplan consultation for Royston provided feedback to help shape our plans, but we also understand residents’ concerns.

“This is not just about providing housing sites - we are working hard to make sure these sites blend into our existing landscapes.” New active travel routes will provide attractive, safe and direct links to the site, providing access to local facilities and services, with community green spaces throughout.”

Following feedback gathered from a six-week public consultation, changes have been made to the development which includes the entrance being set back from Lee Lane, enhancements to public right of way routes to promote active travel and the commitment to providing electric charging vehicle points for every home.

Roof-mounted solar panels will also be installed on every south-facing home and also on the school and convenience store.

The proposed primary school will be located in the south-east corner of the site, off Grange Road.

More than 200 places will be allocated and the school forms one of three new setings projected to be built across the borough as a result of wider masterplans situated elsewhere.

Council leader Sir Steve Houghton, added: “Masterplans are a long-term strategy used to develop the borough to fit its growing needs.

“We have a target to build 21,000 homes during the next 15 years and we have to find space for that to accommodate a growing population.

“We are trying to help residents have a better quality of life, and the masterplan has helped to pinpoint what we will be building and where.”