Plans for hundreds of homes rejected by Government inspector in Barnsley

Rejected: Plans for new housing at several villages, including Silkstone Common, Barnsley, have been rejected by a planning inspector.
Rejected: Plans for new housing at several villages, including Silkstone Common, Barnsley, have been rejected by a planning inspector.
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Protest groups objecting to plans for new homes at sites in several Barnsley villages have been granted a victory by a planning inspector who has ruled out the proposals.

Protest groups objecting to plans for new homes at sites in several Barnsley villages have been granted a victory by a planning inspector who has ruled out the proposals.

It means housing on sites in Cawthorne and Silkstone Common will now been dropped from the council’s long term plans, along with a much larger site to the north of Staincross and two others in the village of Oxspring, which the council itself had previous abandoned as potential targets for homes.

All the sites had been earmarked for new homes as part of Barnsley’s emerging Local Plan – a blueprint for housing and commercial development into the 2030s – to make up part of the total new housing the district will need.

However, planners had deliberately provided more potential sites than needed to make up the expected number of new homes, meaning they will still meet the anticipated target with the sites allocated elsewhere in the borough.

One site, at Bleachcroft Way, Stairfoot, will be turned over for housing from its expected status of employment land at the inspector’s instruction, which will add around 200 more to the total of new homes which will be built through the life of the Local Plan.

A further round of public consultation, focussing specifically on modifications made to the plan during the examination, is now expected to take place from next month. Following this, the Inspector will either issue her final report confirming whether or not the plan is sound or order a further round of discussions with interested parties. If it is accepted, it is possible the Plan will be in place before the end of the year, providing clarity for both the council and developers about where and how land can be developed.

Local plans are designed to ensure that local authorities have enough land available to meet both the needs of an expanding economy and the growth in population which goes with new jobs and are so complex they have to be approved by a Government planning inspector before being formally adopted.

Barnsley’s head of planning, Joe Jenkinson, said: “In contrast with her initial finding last summer, the inspector has confirmed that the plan is capable of being found sound.”

At that point she said Barnsley Council had under-estimated the need for housing and also requested that fresh sites should include village locations, rather than the urban centres where attention had been focused.

“When we consulted on the additional sites earlier this year we had deliberately consulted on more than we needed as we were unsure whether the inspector would accepted our revised housing need figure or ask for it to be increased. We therefore had a surplus of around 900 dwellings.

“Accordingly, we were expecting that some sites would not be accepted and where they have not been, the plan has reverted back to what we had originally proposed.

“There is still another round of consultation to go and this is not her (the inspector’s) final conclusion on any matters but broadly speaking, we are pleased with the progress made.”

The Local Plan is now several years behind schedule and if it is adopted later this year it will provide clarity for both the council and developers about where and how sites in the district can be used in future.

The inclusion in the most recent version of the new village sites had caused widespread concern.

Mrs Housden has told the council the Cawthorne site is unacceptable because: “The proposed site allocation of 86 houses extending into the open countryside to the north of the village would be harmful to its existing form and character.”

At Silkstone Common, she found the proposed site in Moor End Lane ‘unsound’ because: “Development of this site would result in the loss of an undeveloped gap which forms a transition between the main built-up area of the village and the more dispersed development within the open countryside to the south of the Transpennine Trail. The consolidation of development at this point would be harmful to the existing compact form and character of the village.”

At Staincross, the proposal was to build on one site with around 669 new homes and earmark a further site for 675 new homes in the future.

However, the inspector told the council that “would represent a significant scale of development.

“Limited supporting technical evidence has been supplied in relation to capacity in local infrastructure, the impact of the proposed development and specific requirements to mitigate its impact. The effect of additional traffic movements on the local highway network is a matter of concern given the proximity and cumulative impact of other proposed developments including at Royston and Mapplewell.”