Lib Dems told to “hang heads in shame” after voting against Royston masterplan framework

Members of Barnsley’s Liberal Democrat group were told that they should “hang their heads in shame” for voting against a masterplan which is set to transform Royston.

By Danielle Andrews, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 29th July 2021, 4:34 pm

Councillors voted through the Royston Masterplan framework at today’s full council meeting (July 29), but the plan faced opposition from Lib Dem members.

The proposals to build a community of almost 1,000 homes and a new primary school on land at Lee Lane – 166 of which are already under construction – have been met with opposition from residents.

The framework will provide guidance for future planning decisions.

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Councillor Steve Hunt, Lib Dem member for Darton East, told the meeting he opposed the plans, adding that residents were concerned about extra traffic on roads already at “breaking point”, loss of green space, and a 700-signature petition that was “summarily dismissed.”

Leader of the Lib Dem group, councillor Hannah Kitching, added: “For some reason, the council has failed to engage with local residents with their local plan.

“It concerns me – they [residents] don’t realise that these sites, that they view as precious areas of green space, are already earmarked for housing. They feel that when they submit comments, when they give feedback, when they sign petitions, their concerns are not addressed.

“Someone in this council chamber needs to be a voice for those residents.”

Labour councillor for Darfield Pauline Markham told the meeting that the Lib Dems should “hang their heads in shame for voting against this”, adding that she was “very disappointed” in them.

Coun Markham highlighted the need for housing in the borough, as well as employment.

Labour Councillor Roy Bowser told the meeting that people are as desperate for homes now as they were post war.

“What [the council] is doing today is what that great national government did then. People were as desperate for homes as they are today.

“What are we going to say to the young people that are desperate for homes?

“This is nothing short of nimbyism”

Leader of the council, Sir Steve Houghton CBE told the meeting that he “had a problem with people going out to members of the public, and plying them with half-truths, innuendoes and in some cases downright lies.

“There will be road pressures – of course there’ll be, and and individual application we’ll have to deal with.

“The biggest impact on health – and particularly mental health, is not having a roof over your head and not having a job. This [plan] will deal with that.”

Coun Houghton added that greenfield sites cannot be used until brownfield sites are “exhausted”, adding: “to say to people they should be going in brownfield is deliberately misleading.”

The leader also told the meeting that the local plan, adopted in 2019, would reduce the amount of greenbelt in the borough by just one to two percent.

“It will change the greenbelt in Barnsley from 77 percent of the borough to 75 percent.

“This council has done everything right through this process, and respected everyone’s right to disagree.

“I don’t respect the right to mislead the public for pure political purposes.”