A SEVEN-FIGURE contract to build a new sports ground which sparked controversy when it was claimed local residents’ voices had not been taken into account has gone out to tender ahead of its creation later this year.

Barnsley Council hope contractors will submit expressions of interest for the £1.7m work at Parkside in Hoyland, which form part of the local authority’s masterplan for the area.

Despite a long-running campaign and petitions being lodged in a bid to save it, the relocation of Rockingham Sports Ground to Parkside which is just 900 metres away was approved by the council’s planning board in November.

Planning bosses said the relocation to the site will ‘provide a new, purpose-built community and sports facility to replace the existing building at Rockingham which is no longer fit for purpose’.

The new site will include a single-story 40.5-metre by 17.9-metre building with a reception area, cafe, studio spaces, two full-size sports team changing rooms, changing rooms for sports officials, accessible changing rooms, and a floodlit artificial grass sports pitch.

Sixty-four car parking spaces will be provided, as well as an overspill car park for a further 30 vehicles.

However, it’s been mired in controversy since its plan broke cover, seeing members of REACH (Rebuilding Environment and Community in Hoyland) battle against the relocation.

Campaigners claimed it represented more ‘needless destruction’ of Hoyland’s remaining few greenspaces.

A spokesperson added: “All our surrounding countryside has been bulldozed and warehouses have been built only yards from our homes.

“The ground had been neglected for years but instead of being upgraded with Section 106 money, it is being replaced with a pay-per-use sports ground, run by a private company.

“Rockingham Sports Ground was given to the mining community by the Earl Fitzwilliam with a covenant on it saying it could only be used for recreational purposes, and until lately was owned by Barnsley Council, who sold it to the trust who altered the covenant.

“Consequently our residents have been ‘kicked off’ our local green space.

“The character of the area and scenery has changed beyond recognition these things are now gone forever.

“This has left local residents with a ground that most local people will no longer be allowed to use as it is being fenced off and gated purely for the use of clubs.

“Walkers, families and dog walkers will be excluded and left with a narrow strip of ground to use as a footpath with barely any room for two walkers to pass each other let alone those with dogs.”

Applications will close next Friday, with the contract due to begin on September 16, 2024, documents show.

A council report added: “The site is located to the east of Sheffield Road within the suburb of Hoyland Common.

“Newlands Developments have developed the land to the south-west of the Rockingham site, constructing large-scale warehousing and associated infrastructure including the new relief road, Olympus Way.

“The site has previously been used as playing fields with football pitches, but more recently the space has been left unused, becoming overgrown and popular with dog walkers.

“The vision for the building is for it to be used as a local hub and therefore the layout has been designed to be as flexible as possible to accommodate the wide range of potential users.”