Discussions between residents and Barnsley Council are to continue over the proposed plan to create a traffic gyratory system to ease congestion on a major route for the town centre, as opposition to the scheme has begun to spread.
Barnsley Council has now decided to take over part of Penny Pie Park at the Dodworth Road crossroads to provide space for the gyratory, which is needed to prevent queues for traffic head to and from the town centre from getting worse and a planning application has been submitted.
Senior councillors and officials have already met residents and another meeting is scheduled to take place in the next few weeks, though council leader Sir Steve Houghton insisted there was no alternative to the scheme, which will leave 80 per cent of the park intact, because predictions suggest traffic would be left queuing onto the M1 at busy times by 2023 without changes and “doing nothing is not an option”.
However, Penistone West Councillor Hannah Kitching has now entered the debate to oppose the plan on behalf of Barnsley and Penistone Liberal Democrats.
She attended a residents’ event in the park on Bank Holiday Monday, tying yellow ribbons in the area to express support for those wanting to preserve the park in its current form.
She said: "This matter was brought to my attention by my residents in the Penistone area.
“This is the main route into Barnsley for people travelling from the west and they are very concerned about the impact of these plans both on their travel arrangements and of course on this valuable green space.
"It is astounding that the council would seek to destroy a well used and well maintained public park in a part of the borough which is woefully lacking in public green spaces.
“This park has a children's play area, a multi use games space and an outdoor gym as well as being a haven for dog walkers and joggers. During the recent spell of hot weather the park has been busy every single day. The Council should be seeking to invest in and protect its public green spaces, not concrete them over.
"Having spoken to local campaigners I would like to offer them my full support and to reassure them that they have support from the Penistone community too.”
If the gyratory gets approval from the council’s planning board, it would involve creating a carriageway which loops around the park area, effectively creating a one way system intended to keep traffic moving.
The bulk of the park would remain, but the play facilities already in place would have to be relocated and gaining access to the main central area would involve crossing the carriageway using pedestrian crossings.
Highways experts explored many options before coming up with the proposal adopted by the council, described by Sir Steve as “the least worst way” of bringing about improvements.
Other options would have involved demolishing people’s homes to make space for more carriageway, an option ruled out by the council.
Traffic around the crossroads has become an increasing problem in recent years and shortening the journey time into the town centre from the direction of the M1 has been a priority for the council.
Coun Neil Wright, who represents those living in the area, said he was “standing shoulder to shoulder” with residents who objected to the scheme, to ensure their views were made clear at the town hall.
“It has not been to planning and has not been authorised yet,” he said.
“These residents need representing and that is what our intentions are.”