Protests over “environmentally disastrous” masterplans at packed Barnsley residents’ meeting

Protesters battling against “environmentally disastrous” masterplans across Barnsley rallied together at a public meeting last week.

Thursday, 1st July 2021, 9:37 am

Residents aired their concerns over a number of developments in Barnsley at a busy meeting in Hoyland.

Community group Rebuilding Environment And Community in Hoyland (REACH) organised a residents meeting at Hoyland Common WMC on Fitzwilliam Street on June 24.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, many members of the public were turned away, and organisers say another meeting will be held soon for those who could not attend.

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Residents gathered to state their views at a public meeting.
Residents gathered to state their views at a public meeting.

Speakers from the Stop MU2/3 campaign – which stands against plans for almost 2,000 homes on sites between Fish Dam Lane and Carlton Road, and Shaw Lane – said residents fear the area will become “unrecognisable”.

Jayne Hulme of the campaign told the meeting: “Residents fear our localities will become unrecognisable, depleted of wildlife – all without any genuine consultation and with developments failing to fulfil environmental, de-carbonising or ecological ambitions that Barnsley Council keeps telling usit has.”

She added a petition against the plans has already gained 2,000 signatures.

Ci Davis, from Extinction Rebellion, added that the council’s plans to offset any lost biodiversity “may take up to 140 years for any benefits to be seen” – according to an Australian study.

Residents at the meeting.

“Biodiversity is not a commodity that can be moved about, it is an ecology and each part is interdependent, including us as humans,” he added.

“For the people of Hoyland Common there is only loss in what is proposed. Key to an offsetting strategy is to keep as much as possible on the footprint of the site.”

Resident Karen Fletcher added: “It was positive to see faces of all ages here, especially young people, and get support from elsewhere in Barnsley and Sheffield to start working together to stop these environmentally disastrous plans. It’s the young who will have to live in this new world.”

However, a spokesperson for the council say that the local plan – which the masterplans are part of – will “give Barnsley a chance at recovery”.

The local plan, which every local authority is required to have, which was signed off in 2019 by the Secretary of State following an extensive two-year examination by the Government’s planning inspector.

The spokesperson added: “To give Barnsley a chance at recovery, we must continue to deliver the borough’s local plan.

“Barnsley needs more and better jobs, improved and affordable housing and better transport links for local people. We need to focus on this now so we can give our future generations reasons to aspire, grow and live better lives in the borough.

Local plans are a requirement from Government and look at meeting future housing needs using figures derived from their own national projections.

“Our local plan requires us to produce masterplan frameworks that cover seven large areas.

“These are not about consulting on whether the land should be developed – this has already been agreed by the Government in our local plan. Our role is to get the best quality opportunities out of the site for local people.”

The spokesperson added that the council understands that the Hoyland development “impacts on residents, but the landscaping will look very different once the project is complete”.

“The local environment will always be a priority; it’s important to consider that vast quantities of brownfield land have now been returned to the green belt and we have successfully recovered green spaces across the borough. We have seen land around key development sites and sites used for mining transformed in recent years.”

The masterplan for Carlton is still open, and residents are encouraged to take an online survery here: https://barnsleycouncil.smartconsultations.co.uk/consultations/65