A legal showdown is due within days between Barnsley Council and a property developer over a spat which has allegedly left the company in breach of enforcement action.
Planners have been involved in a long-running dispute with Gleeson Homes over the firm’s policy of creating loose gravel drives for its new homes, when Barnsley Council has insisted on a hard surface.
The current action involves sites at Blyth Street, Wombwell, and Elwood, Lundwood, where the company was ordered in February by the council to put down hard surfaced drives, with a deadline for the work of late April.
Now the council’s planning regulatory board has been told that deadline has been breached, with the council preparing to prosecute over non-completion of the work.
Provisional court dates have been set for August 9 and August 16 and although the case could be settled at that point, it could drag on further if alternative proposals are put to the hearing and it is agreed to give Gleeson Homes more time to come up with an acceptable solution.
The company is also in dispute with the council over a third development, in Bolton on Dearne, where planning permission for a third phase of homes was recently rejected on the grounds that the treatment of driveways was not suitable.
Barnsley Council has argued that loose gravel drives cause problems because the surface ends up on the highway, where it can cause problems, and the loose surface allows weeds to grow, where Gleeson Homes have argued their treatment is environmentally friendly because doing it that way produces fewer greenhouse gasses than putting down asphalt.
Wombwell Councillor Dick Wraith said the current situation was “making a mockery of it” with an impasse on the Blyth Street site leaving the estate unfinished.
Head of Planning Joe Jenkinson told the meeting: “I understand your frustration. We are going to get this resolved.
“When we get to court, the court will have the option of making a decision there and then, or adjourning.
“For the people living in the houses with the driveways, the knew the driveways were going to be like that when they purchased the house. They had the option of not purchasing the house.
“There are some enforcement issues, those which involve public safety, where the local authority needs to act really quickly. There are other cases where it is difficult to be too punitive and we have to wait for what the court wants to do.”
The council will report on progress at the next planning meeting, in early September.