A new housing estate on land due to be earmarked for future development could win approval even before those plans are finally signed off by Barnsley Council.
A site at Saunderson Road in Penistone is among a catalogue of sites expected to be earmarked for housing in the authority’s forthcoming Local Plan, which will steer the way both house building and commercial developments evolve in the area until the mid-2030s.
That document is still under consultation and is unlikely to be adopted until late this year, but Orion Homes have already put in a planning application to put 24 homes on the site, with planning documents warning that it will be needed to hit the council’s own targets for new homes in the next few years.
The Local Plan is designed to make sure the borough has enough business growth to generate new jobs, along with enough housing to accommodate the workers companies moving into the area will need.
It is a highly complex process, carried out under the guidance of a Government planning inspector, and is already years overdue, though now reaching its final stages.
A concern expressed by the planning inspector is that sufficient new homes should be created in the early years of the new plan and the council has had to submit a ‘housing trajectory’ to illustrate that. The application highlights the fact that Saunderson Road site expected to be completed by the end of the 2020/21 financial year as part of the council’s figures.
Although the prospect of development on the site has been known for some time, there are still concerns in the area and Coun Dave Griffin said residents in the area had “a variety of opinions” about the plans, with some concerned about the existing “bogginess” of the area.
“There are traffic issues on the A628. We all know at busy times through Bridge End traffic is difficult and backs up.”
He also questioned the expectation that only eight per cent of of the site would go for affordable housing, compared to a current target of 25 per cent and a future target of 30 per cent in the district.
“It seems a long way short. According to the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, in rural areas this is what is happening all over the country.”
Developers used a legal ‘loophole’ on demonstrating through a viability study that it would make no economic sense to build on the site if more homes had to go for lower profit affordable use.
“They are letting communities down and making it really difficult for younger working families. I will be speaking up about this concern on the planning board,” he said.
Coun Hannah Kitching has submitted representations to be considered when a decision is made.
She said: “I am aware it is in the local plan and this development has been expected for a long time now.
“But I still have significant concerns about drainage and flooding in the area.
“Since the previous Saunderson Road development existing residents have experienced flooding, making their drives unuseable. and while the new houses have provided excellent affordable housing I know some residents are unable to use their gardens as they are so wet.
“Residents are tired of seeing these concerns brushed off and unaddressed when plans are passed.
“Of course if any Section 106 money is generated from this development it needs to be spent in the immediate vicinity, mitigating the impact of this development on local residents. Not on the other side of the borough,” she said.
Coun Kitching has concerns about the way Section 106 money, which is provided through a mutual arrangement between developers and the council, is spent. The money is provided to allow for measures to account for the extra strain new developments put on existing neighbourhoods.
However, she is concerned that in some cases money goes to projects in areas where residents affected by new building see little or no discernable benefit.