Controversial plans for a new one way road system in an urban park are being recommended for approval by councillors even though it is acknowledged the development would lead to more noise for some residents and poorer air quality – putting it at odds with the authority’s own policies.
But Barnsley Council insist they have no viable option other than to press ahead with the scheme, which will see a one way system of up to three lanes loop around Penny Pie Park, a green space alongside the congested A628 Dodworth Road between the M1 and Barnsley town centre.
The proposals have been subject to bitter opposition since they were announced in the summer, with more than 200 residents objecting and thousands signing a petition against the development and the recommendation to approve the development has been met with dismay by campaigners.
Now councillors who sit on the planning board will have to decide on whether to approve the scheme, which has been submitted by their own authority and is recommended for approval by expert planning officers.
They say, in a report, the new road “in some cases takes traffic closer to existing properties, and changes alignment and flows.
“This inevitably leads to an increase in noise levels to those properties affected.”
It is expected there will also be a detrimental impact on air quality, though not enough to cause problems.
The council is planning to offer noise insulation to 56 householders most affected by increased noise.
However, the most effective noise reduction measures have been ruled out because it would mean soaking up a lot of the parkland which will remain when the new road has been constructed.
Councillors who make the decision on whether to allow the development have been presented with a highly detailed report, spelling out the council’s position in needing to keep traffic flowing as well as the alternative solutions put forwards by other bodies.
The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and Penistone Friends of the Earth both object and suggest other measures such as better public transport, more pedestrian and cycle routes and car sharing schemes to help take the pressure off the junction.
However, council planners say “less harmful alternatives” to the new road will not be sufficient to prevent traffic clogging up to the point where vehicles will back up onto the M1.
If that was to happen it could ultimately lead to a situation where Highways England would launch action to effectively take over traffic management from Barnsley Council.
An irony faced by the council is that trying to encourage more use of buses is difficult because as congestion increases, bus journey times on that road become longer.
For that reason, a park and ride scheme proposed for Dodworth a decade ago was ultimately deemed to be unviable, with the idea scrapped.
Traffic problems, councillors are told, should be “perhaps no surprise given that Barnsley is the only major town in South Yorkshire that is not served by a purpose built dual carriageway (either in full or in part) to connect the town centre with the nearest motorway.”
The A628 running from the town centre has been tagged in a Sheffield City Region transport strategy, which looks at the region’s facilities up to 2040, as among the top 20 roads expected to see increased delays over the next six years.
Peter Giles, who is among the campaigners fighting the development, said the council was “going to the default of building new roads” rather than looking for alternative solutions.
“Barnsley is years behind others in looking to sort out congestion.
“They had no intention of looking at the bigger picture, they are hell bent on getting this scheme through.
“I am not surprised but I am disappointed. It is not finished yet,” he said.