Housing will be allowed on controversial village site, Government inspector rules

Concern: Coun Dave Griffin hopes the forthcoming Local Plan will provide more control over planning decisions.
Concern: Coun Dave Griffin hopes the forthcoming Local Plan will provide more control over planning decisions.
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A planning inspector has ruled that a new estate of around 21 homes can be constructed in the Barnsley village of Thurlstone after the application was originally rejected by Barnsley Council, though the developer will have to create a new lay-by to help with parking congestion on an access road to the site.

However, two local councillors still have concerns surrounding the development.

The site is off New Smithy Avenue in the village, near Penistone, and the application to build was made by Phil Mullins, who can now move forwards with the proposals, which will see a development of around 21 homes, though final details for the design and layout of the site have still to be agreed.

When the application was first submitted to Barnsley Council there was widespread opposition to the plan, with concerns about congestion and road safety in the village, which has narrow roads which can become heavily congested with parked cars.

However, planning inspector Elizabeth Pleasant has ruled that most of that traffic does not create a road safety issue because vehicles travel slowly due to the road conditions and that such congestion is not unusual in residential areas.

However, the inspector does accept that parking on a bend on New Smithy Avenue, the access route to the site: “Does however impede forward visibility for drivers of vehicles travelling in a westerly direction along the street.

“This leads to a situation where drivers may be required to undertake reversing manoeuvres along the street to allow other vehicles to pass.

“The proposed development would increase the frequency of such manoeuvres and exacerbate the existing unsatisfactory road conditions.

“To provide mitigation for the additional traffic movements, the appellant proposes to provide a parking layby alongside New Smithy Avenue. There is sufficient highway land adjacent to the bend in the road to construct a parking layby which would provide space for up to three cars to park parallel to and clear of the highway.

“I accept that creating a widened carriageway in this location may result in cars straddling the pavement on the opposite side of the road and on-street parking would still occur.

“However, the formation of a layby in this critical location would substantially improve forward visibility and the need for vehicles to reverse would therefore be significantly reduced.

“I am satisfied that the proposed layby would provide adequate mitigation for the increase in traffic along New Smithy Avenue, both during the construction period and for future occupiers of the proposed development,” the inspector’s findings state.

The junction between Towngate and Manchester Road, which will be the route for vehicles entering or leaving the village from the development, is angled but the inspector was satisfied the extra traffic generated by the new homes would not create an increased hazard.

In addition to paying for that work, the developer would also be expected to contribute more than £40,000 towards the impact of extra pupils attending Penistone Grammar School, which is expected to remain oversubscribed for years to come.

The site is not suitable to provide the green open space now required of new developments and a cash contribution to Barnsley Council is expected instead, which may be used to improve Thurlstone recreation ground.

Penistone West ward Councillors Dave Griffin and Hannah Kitching both have concerns about the situation, with Coun Griffin expressing a hope that the introduction of the new Local Plan, now reaching its final stages, will help the council control planning applications.

At present, if local authorities cannot demonstrate a five year land supply developers stand greatly increased prospects of having their applications passed. When it has been assessed as ‘sound’ new plan will provide the guaranteed land supply and help the council to regulate more closely where developments are allowed to happen.

“I tried to argue in the appeal that if the Local Plan was sound, this could not go ahead. The Local Plan has gone through its final stages and is going out for consultation.”

The application had exploited a “loophole” created by the lack of a proven land supply, although a strategy to provide that was virtually complete, he said.

Meanwhile, Coun Kitching is concerned that money allocated to benefit the community through Section 106 rulings is actually spent in the area. She has already raised concerns about the prospect of money raised from major housing developments in Penistone area communities being spent elsewhere in the borough, where those affected by new building do not see the benefits of all the financial compensation secured by the council.