PLANS to widen one of the main routes into the centre - described as a ‘bottleneck’ which has seen more than 25 collisions in the last five years - are set to be passed by the council next week despite objections from local residents.

A planning application, submitted on behalf of South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), seeks to widen Old Mill Lane and increase its current three lanes to five.

This would include a new bus lane, cycle paths, the relocation of a bus shelter, the removal of Asda’s recycling centre and Kaye Pepper’s memorial, who died on July 13, 1996.

The new proposals, which were revealed in January, suggest the widening of the highway to include four lanes and a separate bus lane - five in total.

The bridge over the River Dearne would be widened by around seven metres to accommodate the additional lanes.

A planning report states: “The application site forms part of the A61 corridor, which is a strategic route linking Barnsley to Wakefield and the M1 motorway.

“The route currently suffers from congestion, significant delay and journey time variation for buses and general traffic.

“Arup (an engineering firm) undertook a feasibility study in 2017 to assess the impacts of a range of potential interventions along the A61 corridor in Barnsley.

“The study found that the Old Mill Lane bridge is a bottleneck for southbound traffic (towards the town centre), and that the benefits of other junction improvement schemes along the corridor would only be realised once the bridge widening scheme is in place.

“The bridge widening is therefore considered to be a crucial starting point to deliver other potential interventions in the future.”

The plans, which will be discussed by Barnsley Council’s planning board next week, were put to the public - and a number of objections were made.

Letters were sent to 18 neighbouring properties, a notice was erected in the area and a press notice was published in the Chronicle.

The main areas of concern are a loss of trees, detrimental impact to wildlife, the knock-on effect to the surrounding road network and the signalised junction south of the side needing modifying.

“Personal injury accident data was reviewed for the five-year period 2016/2020 covering a study area of the proposed scheme and 150-metre approaches to and from the A61 and A635,” the report added.

“A total of 26 collisions occurred within the study are during this period, of which eight were ‘serious’ and 18 ‘slight’.

“Of the 26 collisions, five occurred with the scheme extents.

“The review concluded there are not any road safety concerns on the highway network that are likely to be exacerbated by the proposal.

“The proposed widening of the existing bridge from three lanes to five would reduce congestion and delay and improve journey time reliability.

“The proposal would encroach slightly into the green belt.

“However, the assessment has determined the proposal is an appropriate form of development that does not require very special circumstances.”