SIGNIFICANT investment promised to span for more than a decade took a step closer today when controversial plans for 2,300 new jobs and more than 1,700 homes were submitted to Barnsley Council, the Chronicle can reveal.

Sterling Capitol and Strata jointly lodged their long-awaited planning application for commercial and residential development on the land south of Barugh Green Road, also known as Barnsley West - or MU1 - in the council’s so-called ‘masterplan’ for the area in its local plan development blueprint.

It comes despite several thousand campaigners forming opposition group Keep It Green in 2014 when the 122-hectare, ex-green belt site was made available for development.

Proposals include 1.2m sq ft of employment space, which promise to generate 2,300 new jobs in the area, as well as additional jobs created during the construction and development phase.

The plans also include designs for 1,760 new homes, a new 420-place primary school and a link road - deemed ‘essential’ by local councillors - to alleviate traffic in the area which spans from Higham to Barugh Green along the M1 corridor.

This large-scale project will take 15 years to complete and, should the plans be approved by councillors, Sterling Capitol and Strata aim to start work ‘as soon as possible’, bosses behind the project told the Chronicle this week.

Sir Bob Murray, who has overseen projects including the Football Association’s St George’s Park home and was the former owner of Sunderland FC, is chairman of Sterling Capitol.

He said: “We’re proud of our 30-year history building better futures for local people in Barnsley.

“Following our success at Capitol Park, Dodworth, our plans for Barnsley West are some of the most exciting yet and will create and support thousands of new, high-quality jobs in the town as well as delivering around £1bn for the local economy over the next decade and more.

“We are committed to improving the living and working environments for all our communities.

“Our plans include a mix of new homes including affordable housing, a new primary school for more than 400 local children and the development of even more open green spaces for families to enjoy.

“Sterling Capitol has an enviable track record of delivering high quality developments in Yorkshire and an outstanding reputation as one of the most accomplished, trusted and effective developers of its kind in the north of England.

“This is a defining moment for Barnsley and we’re proud to play our part in building a positive and prosperous future for the town and local residents.”

As part of the design, ‘extensive green space’ is incorporated into both the residential and employment areas, including the retention of some of the existing woodland on the east of the site and the creation of wildlife corridors.

The plans will see the green space opened for local people to enjoy, through a network of upgraded pedestrian and cycle routes through the development.

However, campaigners - who called for the council to review its local plan in light of the pandemic and reinstate MU1’s green belt status - blasted the bid.

A spokesperson from Keep it Green added: “Our prime concern was, and still is, the loss of a large area of green belt, together with the resultant coalescence of Pogmoor, Higham, Barugh Green, Redbrook and Gawber.

“We continue to note, with concern, the determination of the council and the consortium to press ahead with the implementation of MU1.

“Previous consultations have been considered to be inadequate in detail and quality, offering little insight into the precise nature of the development on which to make full comment, at the same time generating a very strong, negative response from residents.

“Members’ serious misgivings about the proposals remain - it’s still viewed as an abomination.”

Thousands of residents whose homes border MU1 will now be able to save their say through a month-long public consultation.

Dodworth ward’s Coun Peter Fielding said: “Local voices need to be heard now the application has been submitted - this has been years in waiting and it’s clear many people have issues with it.

“My main concern is its sheer scale and the fact that our own surveys revealed 89 per cent of residents opposed it.”