THE boss of a firm behind controversial plans to build more than 1,500 homes on a giant field which separates several Barnsley communities has been urged to finally visit the site by angry locals - amid concerns that hard-to-access information is making a ‘mockery’ of a public consultation process.

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 bid’s public consultation phase, which was set to end in the coming days, has now been extended to December 18, giving residents more time to assess multiple documents relating to the 122-hectare ‘MU1’ site.

Residents have blasted Sterling Capitol chairman Sir Bob Murray - who told the Chronicle last week that he was committed to ‘personally overseeing’ the development - and invited him to the site.

One Barugh Green resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “Some of the things mentioned by Sir Bob were completely irrelevant to MU1.

“For example, his building of Sunderland Football Club’s Stadium of Light ground is a tiny feat given the what is in effect a postage stamp-sized ex-colliery when it’s compared to MU1.

“MU1 is a 122-hectare site so cannot be even thought of in the same breath as the Stadium of Light - especially due to its potentially dangerous underground conditions - so why he even brought that up is seemingly nothing but a ‘look-at-me’ exercise.

“His comments did nothing but incense people and we’re now giving Sir Bob an open invitation to the site to see just how strong our views are on this locally.”

Sir Bob, the ex-owner of Sunderland FC, had claimed his firm were best placed to oversee MU1’s development due to his ‘second-to-none track record’ of building on ex-mining sites such as Monkwearmouth Colliery, where the 49,000-capacity stadium sits.

A spokesperson from Keep it Green - which set up in 2014 to oppose the development of the site - added: “We are still examining the application’s supporting documentation.

“We have also held a short meeting with staff from the council’s planning department to express concerns about how the information has been presented, together with the resultant difficulty in the interpretation of that by the local community.

“It is important therefore that residents respond individually to the consultation, explaining their specific concerns and objections to the proposals.

“Sterling Capitol’s chairman’s comparison of site MU1 with a reference to the Stadium of Light football ground being built on a former colliery site is a non-starter.

“MU1 is a former opencast site where ground conditions are much different to a pit head site such as the former Monkwearmouth Colliery.

“Once again the local community should be alerted to such exaggerated claims.

“He also refers to the amount of time and money that has already gone into the project but fails to mention the agreement with the council for £10.6m of taxpayers’ grant funding relating to MU1 from the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority.

“Sterling Capitol’s sole aim is to maximise profit from the site which despite all of the evidence to the contrary, should never have been removed from the green belt in the first place.”