A CONTROVERSIAL blueprint for future housing and business schemes in Barnsley - which allocated vast sites for development - should be altered due to projected growth forecast several years ago failing to materialise, according to a councillor.
Barnsley’s local plan, which was adopted by the council in 2019 following public consultation, sets out how the local authority will manage the physical development of the borough on behalf of residents and businesses.
It includes providing ‘sufficient’ land in the right places to attract more businesses and allow current organisations to grow - but having been adopted in 2019 it has been mired in controversy due to large-scale development on former green belt land.
Coun Peter Fielding - who represents the Dodworth ward - said the statutory five-year review process has started ahead of its reveal in 2024, but called on planning bosses to make changes.
“The revision of the plan is vital given that the demographics of Barnsley has changed significantly since 2019 and the projected population growth is not materialising given the changes caused by Brexit and the pandemic,” Coun Fielding added.
“The latest census results show that Barnsley’s overall population is growing at just 0.5 per cent per year and that growth is slowing down.
“The growth in the working-age population is just two per cent in the last ten years.
“This clearly brings into question the targets of the local plan to grow jobs by 28,000 - most of which are in warehousing and distribution - and building an additional 21,000 new homes.
“The council’s intentions on this need to more transparent.”
The aim of the plan is to create more jobs to ‘improve residents’ lives’, whilst also aiming to provide improved housing to meet existing and future need.
It includes some site allocations which require the production of a masterplan framework - like those seen in Hoyland and Royston which have seen strong opposition from campaigners.
Coun Fielding said the revision is ‘vital’ due to the recent census which shows the population is not rising at the expected rate.
He claimed the council need to be ‘more transparent’ with the plan, just months after Barnsley Council leader Sir Steve Houghton said ‘there isn’t a more transparent’ local authority in the country.
Coun Fielding added: “The local plan was adopted in 2019 and is due for a statutory five-year revision in January 2024.
“I wanted to find out what the council is doing to prepare for this revision and what kind of changes we could expect.
“I also wanted a commitment to a date for the adoption of the revised plan.
“A broad assurance that work on the revision had started was given to me but the lack of detail was disappointing.
“The council could not commit to a date for the completion of the revision or the adoption of the revised plan.”