New planning application could put more houses on controversial village site

Consultations will close soon on the third round of a highly complex and controversial planning application to put an estate of new houses in a rural Barnsley village.

Permission to build 21 homes on land at New Smithy in Thurlstone was granted on appeal after being initially rejected by Barnsley Council’s Planning Board.

But the land then changed hands and a second application was made, increasing house numbers by nine – a move which objectors say will put more traffic into small village roads, one of the issues raised when the original application was made.

That application has again been amended because it was found some of the distances between homes on the proposed layout did not meet the separation criteria set out in Barnsley’s new Local Plan, which dictates house building policy into the 2030s.

The situation becomes more complicated however because the original batch of homes are covered by one set of planning rules, with the additional nine – if approved – falling under updated rules.

Coun Dave Griffin said old rules demanded 25 per cent of new homes were given over to ‘affordable housing’ with current rules demanding 30 per cent in the Penistone district.

But for that estate, the proposed percentage had slipped from 28 per cent for the original proposal to 25 per cent for the new application, expected to be considered by councillors before the end of the year.

That situation, he said, “seems wrong”.

The cash sums developers have to contribute towards costs such as education and sustainable transport have also changed under the Local Plan, effectively creating a hybrid for applications which straddle the two sets of rules.

Coun Griffin said he would have expected any development of the site to be dismissed outright if it had been decided after the Local Plan came into being, because the site was allocated as ‘safeguarded’ by the council, with no plans to see it developed for more than a decade. Those rules can be sidestepped when local authorities are unable to demonstrate an adequate supply of land for housing development is available and, until the Local Plan was approved Barnsley fell into that category.

He said he “would take a lot of convincing that this (application) should not be rejected” when it went to councillors for a decision.

It is not yet known whether Barnsley Council’s planning experts will recommend it is approved or rejected. Comments can be submitted to the council until November 7.