THE developer behind controversial plans to build more than 1,500 homes on an ex-mining site - which locals believe may not be safe due to underground conditions - revealed they are ‘committed’ to Barnsley and will put right any issues found under the surface.
Sterling Capitol and Strata - the firms which collectively make up the Barnsley West Consortium (BWC) - originally submitted their plan to transform former green belt land between Pogmoor, Higham and Barugh Green on the M1 corridor in 2021 but went back to the drawing board and revised the application following the public’s input.
The new scheme - which also includes a 420-space primary school and business units set to yield up to 1,100 permanent jobs - is now in a public consultation stage.
Former Sunderland Football Club owner Sir Bob Murray, who heads Sterling Capitol, told the Chronicle he is personally involved in overseeing the long-awaited development.
“We’re not the most popular act currently but this is a win-win situation for Barnsley - we’re putting our reputation on the line but we’re going to deliver a scheme which will transform the town,” he said.
“My family has five generations of former miners so I’m fully aware of Barnsley’s mining legacy.
“It’s important people don’t forget the amount of time and money that’s already gone into this - it’s been six years in the making and millions of pounds have been spent already so we would not have done this if we weren’t committed.
“The Stadium of Light (Sunderland FC’s stadium) was built on a former pit so we do know what we’re doing and have a second-to-none track record.
“We are working alongside the Coal Authority and whatever we need to do to mitigate any issues, we will do that.
“It’s a bluechip investment that will have a huge economic benefit for Barnsley - it’s a motorway site and although it’s not been marketed yet, it will gain significant interest due to its location.”
Possessing a number of underground coal seams, it was home to opencast coal sites named Craven I, Craven II, Hunters Cottage and Farm House Lane - all of which were backfilled.
Craven II, which sat in the centre of the 122-hectare site’s northern-most half, was excavated to depths of almost 45 metres from 1957 to 1963.
Site investigation work, which resulted in heavy duty core drilling rigs being spotted on MU1, has been carried out after the Coal Authority ‘expressed concern’ due to ‘insufficient investigations’ in the original application.
Paul Beckett, director of Sterling Capitol, added: “The Coal Authority is a statutory body and one that we’re working alongside to carry through their suggestions.
“We carried out more intrusive boreholes following their request and believe we’ve satisfied their concerns.
“Barnsley Council has a ‘masterplan framework’ for this site and they are very keen that it is adhered to as to what goes where, so we re-looked at our plans and changed a lot.
“The school is now central in its positioning and the roundabouts and link road are key as they will ease the load of traffic.
“This whole scheme offers a huge economic benefit and will be superb for the region.”