Public inquiry to be held into Barnsley Council over planning row
A public inquiry will be held in the spring after a housing developer accused Barnsley Council of delaying a planning application for more than 200 new homes.
The hearing could have a significant impact on the council's plans to develop sites in the Royston area in the next 15 years, a move so large the authority is developing a 'masterplan' to help control how individual elements of the scheme are aligned.
That document is still being drawn up, however, and a developer with a planning application for housing off Lee Lane has now gone to the Planning Inspectorate because Barnsley Council has not made a decision in an acceptable timescale.
The situation is complicated because the authority did not want to start making planning decisions before the masterplan was in place and understood the developer was willing to work to the council's timescale.
Two similar masterplans were adopted to cover a large site bounded by Pogmoor, Gawber, Higham and Barugh Green and another in the Hoyland district.
The council insist those masterplans - essentially rule books which set out responsibilities such as providing new roads, schools and affordable housing - are needed to prevent a free-for-all among developers, who might otherwise avoid making the correct level of contributions to the areas involved.
The outcome of the Royston public inquiry will be significant because if the developer succeeds, it will mean they can press ahead with work without the controls in place the council wants.
There is no legal requirement to have masterplans in place, but a year ago the council adotped its Local Plan, which opens up swathes of land for housing and economic development over the next 15 years.
Some of those sites are focused on particular areas and the use of masterplans is seen as an effective way of controlling development.
The ruling Labour group faced a heated argument when asking the full council in Barnsley to adopt the Pogmoor/Higham site's masterplan, with Lib Dem Coun Peter Fielding arguing it effectively gave control of the site's development to a consortium which will work to promote it.