CABINET members have approved plans to adopt a controversial masterplan which could see up to 1,500 homes built in the Carlton.

The development blueprint includes plans for sites named MU2 and MU3 and relates to homes and a small-scale retail facility.

With the adoption of the plan, Carlton Primary Academy will also receive a 210-place extension to help accommodate families in the new homes.

Since its inception, the plan has been heavily contested by environmental campaigners, who argue that the homes will sit on much-needed greenspace.

Rachel Stewart, from the Stop MU2 and MU3 group, said: “We’re told that houses will be built on land behind Carlton Primary Academy and green belt land beside Carlton Marsh.

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“There’s so many protected animals and birds there kestrels, skylarks, larger mammals, hedgehogs, water voles, buzzards, owls and peregrines, all of which need large enough areas to hunt and provide territories for them.

“We have more than 3,000 signatures on a petition of people who do not want this plan to go through.

“We are losing wildlife and hundreds of trees.

“It’s all well and good the council telling us we need to be more environmentally conscious - but here they are, wanting to build on perfectly good greenspace.”

The government has outlined that Barnsley Council must provide more than 21,000 new homes by 2033, and in response to public outcry, the amount of homes allocated to the MU2 and MU3 sites has been reduced from 2,000 to 1,500.

Councillors also maintain that the masterplan was the only way to maintain control over development.

“The masterplan shows that we have listened to the public about the plans themselves,” Coun Chris Lamb said.

“The amount of homes has been reduced, and green corridors will be created.

“I understand resident frustrations, but the masterplan is really the best way that we can deliver our pledge to create more affordable homes, but also allows us to insist on certain standards that help improve the borough.

“Without this aspect of planning, we simply would not have the control we have had.”

Coun Tim Cheetham, cabinet spokesperson for regeneration and culture, added: “Like all planning authorities, we have a difficult task in making sure we provide enough homes to meet targets imposed by national government, while at the same time protecting important features within sites such as those at Carlton.

“The Carlton masterplan framework will help deliver a sustainable, high-quality development with the proper infrastructure to make sure it integrates with our existing communities.

“The framework will help to establish and enhance wildlife corridors as well as the Trans Pennine Trail and National Cycle Network to connect the site from north to south.

“It also recognises the need for additional school places and that highway improvements are needed, as well as providing the opportunity for significant jobs growth and business expansion in the future.

“Without a framework in place, developers and landowners could bring forward planning applications to develop their own sites without properly considering the overall infrastructure requirements.

“The masterplan has been amended significantly following the public consultation and constructive input from local community groups and residents. These amendments demonstrate our commitment to listen to and implement the wishes of residents and community groups where it is warranted, and we are able to do so.”

The plan will now be discussed in the full council meeting on November 25.