THE developer behind ambitious plans to build more than 1,500 homes and warehouses for business use has assured campaigners that their views have been heard - after making ‘positive changes’ to their controversial proposals to transform fiercely protected land.
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 form Strata Sterling Barnsley West.
However, the planned amount of homes has been reduced to 1,560, while a 420-space primary school has also been promised by the firm.
A public consultation on the revised plans is now into its second week.
“We aim to deliver much-needed housing and employment opportunities for Barnsley,” a spokesperson told the Chronicle.
“We are seeking planning permission from Barnsley Council to deliver Barnsley West, which is allocated in the council’s local plan.
“Two hybrid planning applications were submitted in 2021 - since then we have listened to feedback from the community and the council, resulting in positive changes to the proposal.
“To reflect these changes, we have submitted an amended planning application package consisting of planning statements, supporting environmental statement, technical reports and associated materials, outlining the updated and improved plans to the council.
“These changes include a reduction in the number of homes proposed, ensuring up to 1,560 homes in line with the local plan allocation.
“Additionally, adjustments were made to the employment scheme, with significant reduction in heights of the proposed buildings, inclusion of landscaping bunds, and increased strategic landscaping to help address landscape and visual concerns raised during the engagement process.
“Furthermore, the proposal includes a new link road which will connect both ends of the proposed development, from Higham Common Road to Barugh Green Road.
“Two roundabouts on Higham Common Road and Barugh Green Road have already been approved and will be delivered.
“These investments in infrastructure surrounding Barnsley West will mean it is well-connected.
“Amid these improvements, we will build a new primary school, large enough to accommodate 420 children, showcasing our commitment to fostering a thriving community.
“This provision surpassed the council’s requirements, representing double the intended capacity.
“The council will notify residents who are closest to Barnsley West, which is located on land south of Barugh Green Road in Dodworth.”
Delays have been encountered, the Chronicle understands, due to some areas of the giant site coming under further scrutiny due to its past mining use.
Claims that unexploded material - gelignite - was underneath the surface of MU1 was deemed ‘highly unlikely’ and is not being deemed to be a big risk to its potential development, despite concerns being lodged by a former mine manager, ex-pit employees and residents whose homes neighbour the site.
They were quashed by the BWC and Coal Authority, whose respective site probes and records show no evidence of the material being present at Craven II, a particular mine of interest given its positioning on MU1.
A spokesperson from Keep It Green, the campaign group which set up to battle the proposals almost a decade ago, added: “A quick first reading of the detail in the 89-page planning statement suggests that despite all of the difficulties with MU1, which have been pointed out by objectors over many years, that the applicant is again adopting a ‘smoke and mirrors’ approach in seeking to portray a biased view that the planning applications meet the objectives of the council’s adopted local plan.
“Yet the local community has only now been given the statutory requirement of 30 days to submit comments on the revised applications.
“What happened to having a full and open consultation before getting to this stage, knowing the earlier concerns expressed two years ago both by the local community and the council?
“What happened to connectivity, openness, transparency and accountability?”