‘TIME is running out’ for the public to have their say on controversial plans to build more than 1,700 homes on former green belt land along the M1 corridor between junctions 37 and 38, campaigners have warned.

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 earlier this month.

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 - available to view on Barnsley Council’s planning section of its website - 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.

However, comments can only be lodged until next Saturday before the scheme goes before members of the local authority’s planning board.

A planning statement said: “The Barnsley West Consortium is a joint venture between two Yorkshire-based companies - house builder Strata Homes and employment developer, Sterling Capitol.

“Both have already invested in Barnsley and have a track record of delivering aspirational and market facing developments throughout the north of England.

“The site comprises approximately 115 hectares of agricultural and grazing land.

“Considerable areas of the site have been subject to opencast mining in the middle years of the 20th century.

“The ground conditions of the site were affected by the previous mining and infill, meaning that there are clear areas where development is restricted.

“The site was restored to agricultural use by the 1970s and now comprises undulating agricultural grazing land with steep-sided valleys.

“During the proposed development, 405 temporary jobs could be supported per annum over the build period, estimated to be 15 years.

“Around £24m of gross value added per annum is estimated to be generated over the period, or £281m over the entire build phase.

“An estimated 1,897 economically active and employed residents are estimated to live at the site.

“The dwellings could generate additional £3.3m per annum in council tax payments.”

However, campaigners - who called for the council to review its local plan in light of the pandemic and reinstate MU1’s green belt status - urged members of the public to lodge their opinions.

A spokesperson from campaign group Keep it Green added: “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.

“Alarmingly, by delving into the information submitted with the application, we have discovered that it’s anticipated that it will take approximately eight years to carry out the necessary earthworks and all public rights of way and the ‘green way’ on Hermit Lane would need to be closed during ‘extensive earthworks’.

“The proposed development will also require the removal of all the trees on the site, with the exception of most of the two areas of gulley woodland.

“All hedgerows in the site will be removed - this is frightening stuff and we urge people to have their say.”