CAMPAIGNERS who successfully fought for a public consultation period on controversial plans to build more than 1,500 homes on a former colliery site to be extended hope to achieve the same feat - after complaints were made to Barnsley Council about ‘hard-to-understand’ documents.

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 was extended to December 18, giving residents more time to assess multiple documents relating to the 122-hectare ‘MU1’ site.

Campaign group Keep It Green held a behind-closed-doors meeting with the council’s planning department last month, the Chronicle can reveal, to air their frustrations with how relevant documentation relating to the site - which has been mired in controversy due to its ex-mining past - has been presented to the public.

A spokesperson said: “Subsequent to that meeting, Keep It Green has continued to express concern to the council on the difficulty in the interpretation of the information as presented on the council’s planning explorer, including late additions and changes to the supporting documentation.

“We are continuing to examine the application, including asking

further questions to the council in seeking clarification of a number of issues relating to the supporting documentation.

“Members are also asking for a further extension of the consultation deadline in view of the extent of these questions and the resultant complexities and difficulties.

“The community’s voice continues to be a key part of submitting comments on this and any future planning applications.

“It is important therefore, that in addition to Keep It Green, residents respond individually to the consultation, explaining their specific concerns and objections to the development proposals.”

Ground investigations revealed there may be ‘insufficient’ rock cover in seams known as Gawber, Swallow Wood, Thin and Top Haigh Moor on MU1.

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’.

The council confirmed residents’ views will be considered - but confirmed Monday’s deadline for comments will stand until a formal request for another extension is submitted.

Coun Robin Franklin, cabinet spokesperson for regeneration and culture, added: “Planning officers met with the Keep It Green group where representatives were able to raise concerns.

“Whilst these concerns were presented verbally, it is understood that written submissions will be provided.

“These will then be logged by the planning officers and taken into consideration during the determination of planning applications, in keeping with any other consultation response received.

“The application publicity period in connection with the amended plans and information has been extended until Monday.

“Should members of the Keep It Green campaign group require additional time to submit their objections they are advised to contact the planning department separately to request an extension.”