A LONG-AWAITED public consultation relating to a giant site which is earmarked for mass development despite continued calls for it to be left alone due to its ex-mining past has reopened - more than two years after the plans were revealed.
Site MU1 - situated between Pogmoor, Higham and Barugh Green along the M1 corridor - was subject to a bid for 1,760 homes, business units and a primary school lodged in August 2021 by Strata Homes and Sterling Capitol, who together make up the Barnsley West Consortium (BWC).
Having a number of coal seams - some as deep as 350 metres - campaign groups including Keep It Green and locals have urged a re-think due to underground conditions.
It led the Coal Authority to step in due to the site’s past, forcing BWC into ‘refining’ the details of its application to address ‘fundamental concerns’.
The Chronicle can reveal that the planned amount of homes has been reduced to 1,560 - and the public consultation reopened last Friday for a 30-day period.
A Keep It Green spokesperson: “Following the strong objections and issues raised by the first consultation’s responses, together with matters that the council considered to be unsatisfactory and which needed to be addressed further by BWC, we asked the council for an update on the position at that time.
“The brief response was that the next submission of information was likely to be September 2022 at the earliest and that the council will issue a re-consultation when this is submitted.
“That re-consultation has now surfaced with the publication of the planning applications, 13 months after the earlier indicative date of September 2022.”
The ground investigations revealed there may be ‘insufficient’ rock cover in seams known as Gawber, Swallow Wood, Thin and Top Haigh Moor.
According to the Coal Authority, there remains a ‘residual risk’ from underground workings in the east and south of the site, and potentially in the west, where insufficient rock cover is present.
It is therefore likely that residential housing and other buildings will be constructed on either ‘raft foundations or reinforced strips’.
A statement from BWC added: “In 2020 we secured planning permission for the delivery of highways improvements works required to unlock the allocated site and associated benefits in developing this key site.
“The permissions include a northern roundabout on Barugh Green Road and a southern roundabout on Higham Lane between the M1 motorway bridge and Hermit Lane.
“The Barnsley region is draped in a rich history of mining related to the once-thriving coal industry.
“Following a review of archived Coal Authority plans and undertaking ground investigations, it has been confirmed that historical methods of mining once took place on site from 1945.
“Former opencast mines were backfilled to present day site levels, presenting a constraint for the location of development.
“The outer boundaries of the former opencast pits all present challenges.
“Site preparation works, including earthworks, will be required to address these constraints.
“The ground conditions of the site have been affected by previous opencast mining, so there are areas where development is restricted.
“Once the site is fully developed, it will contribute to creating a new sustainable community, combining high-quality new homes including affordable housing, new jobs, community facilities including a primary school and large areas of open green space, available to both existing and new members of the community.
“Barnsley has a growing need for housing and employment space - this will play an important role in realising that requirement over the next 15 years.
“We are asking people who live or work in the area for their views on the proposals to help successfully shape the development going forward.”