A new blueprint which should help secure the future prosperity of Barnsley has been adopted by the council after five years of work, making the town the first in South Yorkshire to set out guidelines for housing and job creation developments in the 15 years ahead.
All councils are now expected to draw up a Local Plan, identifying where new employment sites and housing will go in the years ahead, but Barnsley has beaten other authorities in the county to getting their version completed.
It is expected that will give the town a head start for attracting the investment necessary to ensure future industrial expansion and the housing needed to accommodate a growing population.
Over the course of the plan, it is expected land made available for new firms or existing companies to expand will pave the way for more than 28,000 new jobs, with land now earmarked for more than 21,000 new homes.
Many of those will be the ‘affordable homes’ needed particularly in more affluent parts of the borough where young people are priced out of the neighbourhood by high property prices.
A full meeting of Barnsley Council has adopted the plan, which leader Sir Steve Houghton accepted had been “controversial at times”.
He told colleagues: “We have a responsibility as a council to bring forwards a project which will secure the long-term prosperity of the borough.
“That comes from the land usage we have, going forwards.
“We need land to make sure people have jobs to go to, and hopefully quality jobs.”
The new homes were important to provide the places people need to live, he said, with some of that affordable housing, but some of it aspirational housing.
“We want to be in a position where people want to come to Barnsley,” he said.
Developing the Local Plan has been a laborious process, spanning five years.
It now includes major development sites around urban Barnsley, with others at the smaller ‘principal town’ communities in the borough, as well as some villages.
Five major sites for development include the most controversial, covering land near junction 37 on the M1, taking up what is currently green space between Pogmoor, Higham and Barugh Green, along with Hoyland where there will be substantial housing and jobs development, Goldthorpe, Carlton and Royston.
Those areas are so large that ‘mini masterplans’ will be developed to oversee the development of each, with further public consultation, to ensure the infrastructure such as roads is able to cope with the scale of the changes to come.
The meeting heard concerns from some councillors about the impact such large scale developments may have on the borough, including the absence of once-proposed ‘north orbital road’, which had been planned to take traffic from the M1 away from the town to eventually link up with the Cudworth bypass.
Coun Robert Barnard said: “Taken in the round, I think the plan is one we should approve. Without it, there would be virtually no way to prevent developers coming forward with sites we don’t want.”
Coun Jeff Ennis added: “I am not happy with everything in it, but it is a blueprint for the future of our magnificent town.”