Green Belt public meeting 07/12/13 at 2.30pm

3 12 2013

The first public meeting on the future of our green belt took place on Saturday 7th December at 2.30 pm in Gawber Community Centre.Green belt public meeting There was a terrific turnout of approximately 70-100 local people. The organisers were very pleased with the level of response to this issue.

The meeting began with a general discussion of the background to the drilling on the fields near the M1.  A summary of these issues can be found here.

This was followed be an outline of key events coming up over the next twelve months.  One of these is the publication of Barnsley’s Local Plan.  This Plan will identify all of the new sites to be allocated for housing and employment use.

The important dates in the preparation of the Plan are:

June/July 2014: Consultation on the draft Local Plan

November/December 2014: Consultation on the publication version of the Local Plan

April 2015: Submission to the Planning Inspectorate

July 2015: Examination in public

November 2015: Adoption of the new Local Plan

Several of those attending the meeting voiced their concerns regarding the potential development of this part of the green belt.  Some felt that the balance in the planning cycle so far has been in favour of developers over residents.  Developers had more resources at their disposal, were more aware of the planning documents and had started checking out the commercial attractiveness of putting houses on the green belt.

Other residents were felt there might have been more local consultation over these proposed changes.

Before the meeting closed, those attending were asked to self-nominate if they would like to join the committee that will organise the campaign from this point forward. Eight people volunteered to join the steering group formed at the previous informal meeting held at the Chestnut Tree.

Thirty-four others asked for their email addresses to be added to the group’s distribution list so they could be kept informed of future meetings and action.

Contacting the green belt group

The group now has its own email address as it covers a wider are than Pogmoor Residents Association.   (pra.green.group@gmail.com).

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Guarding our green belt

28 10 2013

“The Government attaches great importance to Green Belts.  The fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence.”  

(National Planning Policy Framework, UK Government, Department of Communities and Local Government, 2012)

Tonight (28th October, 2013) a new sub-group of the Residents’ Association was formed with the aim of guarding our green belt. Fifteen local residents from Pogmoor and Gawber met in the Chestnut Tree to share their knowledge of what is happening and to start planning a campaign to protect the green belt that borders and frames our community. As discussed in a previous post, the farm land enclosed by the M1, Pogmoor, Gawber, Higham and Barugh Green, is under threat as it is has the potential to be developed for much needed employment and housing for the borough.

First steps

The following initial actions were agreed:

1.  Leaflet the streets most affected by the site included in the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) if this site is eventually selected for inclusion Barnsley’s Local Plan.  When time permits, the leafleting will be widened to inform residents over a wider area.

2. Identify the owners of the farms affected and contact them to check whether they would are considering selling their land for development if it is re-designated for housing or employment when the Local Plan is published.

3. Encourage local residents to comment on the SHLAA.  Comments should be submitted online to the council here.  Unfortunately, your views must be posted on the council website by 1st November, 2013. The site to comment on is 215 shown on map 5 in the supporting documents.

The type of comment that will have most impact will draw upon local knowledge that hasn’t been considered during the land availability assessment.

For example, the SHLAA assumes that the landowners are interested in selling their land for development.  If we discover that they do not want to sell all, or part, of their farms, this will be a valid comment.

Others might comment on the environmental impact of future development on the site.  Those of us with specific environmental skills and knowledge could help here.

Alternatively, you might wish to comment on the social infrastructure available locally to support an extra housing estate in the area. What would be the impact on local primary schools in Gawber and Barugh Green?  We don’t have a GP surgery, dentist or pharmacy in Gawber or Pogmoor now. Might the health facilities we all use cope with this influx? How would the local roads cope with the traffic?





Is our Green belt under threat?

16 10 2013
Introduction

In July 2012, the Council published its Development Sites and Places Draft Consultation document.  This forms part of the set of strategic development plans for the borough, the Local Development Framework, which will replace the existing unitary development plan. ‘Sites and Places’ considers the potential future uses of land and contains guidelines for making decisions on planning applications.  Of particular interest to us was the 51 ha parcel of green belt land lies north of Hermit Lane, Gawber down to Barugh Green Road.  It has been identified as ‘potential employment land – options from which the final allocation will be chosen. According to the planners, the size of this site will mean that ‘substantial road infrastructure improvements’ will be necessary if it is finally selected.

In January, 2013, the Department for Transport announced £113M funding  for major transport schemes in the Sheffield City Region. (Barnsley is part of this region). This money is reserved for infrastructure projects across the region over a ten year period starting in April, 2015.  The body set up to oversee this investment is the Sheffield City Region Local Transport Body (LTB) which is chaired by Barnsley Council’s Sir Steve Houghton.

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 8th August, 2013, Barnsley Council submitted three infrastructure projects for inclusion in the investment programme.  One of these is Goldthorpe, another is near Grimethorpe and the third is the construction of a new link road connecting the M1 at Dodworth (junction 37) to  Claycliffe (A635).  Barnsley Chronicle reported that this latter project would: “reduce traffic congestion along Higham Common Lane and open up land for businesses and as many as 800 new homes.”  Presumably, this link road forms the substantial infrastructure improvement mentioned in Development Sites and Places.

The prioritised list of infrastructure projects was agreed at the LTB meeting on 26th July, 2013.  The Dodworth/Claycliffe link road was ranked at number 7 in the list of 17 projects.

This week, the Barnsley Chronicle carried a front page story ‘Green belt sites identified for housing’ (18 October, 2013). This reported that a new part of the evidence base for the Local Development Framework, the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA), is open for consultation until 1st November, 2013.  The SHLAA identifies hundreds of sites around the borough had been deemed suitable for housing.  These sites have capacity for 40,000 homes but Coun Miller stressed, in the Chronicle article, that ‘the council only intends to build about 20,000 properties over 15 years.”  So, not all of these sites will be included in the Local Plan (the new name for the Local Development Framework).  This is also made clear on the SHLAA page on the council’s website:

“It is important to understand that the SHLAA does not represent a statement of council policy and does not have a bearing on the determination of planning applications. It should be emphasised that the purpose of the SHLAA is not to allocate sites, and this will be done in the Local Plan.”

First sightings of engineering activity on the Dodworth/Claycliffe link road?

Several residents in the Wharfedale Road area have noticed surveying and drilling in the fields at the back of the estate.  One resident has informed us that the drilling was performed on behalf of Strata Homes Yorkshire Ltd.   According to John England, Strata’s Strategic Land Director, they are examining the potential for building houses and commercial properties on the fields behind Wharfedale Road.  The reason for the drilling was to check the accuracy of  some NCB geological reports dealing with the depth of disturbance resulting from open-cast mining. Mr England stressed that this work preliminary and nothing is likely to come of it before 2016.  Of course, there will be public consultation if, or when, firmer proposals materialise.

A spokesman for the council confirmed (25 October, 2014) that this private-sector activity has  “not been commissioned by the Council.  I understand that the site investigation works are being undertaken by developer(s) who may wish to progress development in the area, sometime in the future.”

A second council spokesman added (23 October, 2014) : “Any preparatory works that are currently being carried out will be the responsibility of the landowner. However, because [the site does not] have planning permission at this stage, this work is restricted to preparatory site investigation works.”

The local councillors for the Dodworth ward (this area is part of that electoral ward), Jack Carr, Phillip Birkinshaw and Brian Perrin, have also been contacted. Cllr Carr promtly replied on their behalf.  He said they were aware of long-standing plans to build a road from the M1 at Dodworth down to Barugh Green.  This road would relieve Higham and Barugh Green of a lot of commercial traffic and would be beneficial for those communities.  However, any plans for new homes was news to him.

We received first sight that our green belt is being evaluated for housing in the SHLAA.  In Report Summary 5 and Map 5 (available here), site 215 contains all the green belt land east of the M1 bordering Pogmoor, Gawber and Higham and Barugh Green.  It is considered to be a ‘major site.’ It was evaluated as a category 2 site, suitable for development after the first 5 years of the Local Plan.  Category 2 sites have specific measure to overcome which prevent them being actioned in the first 5 years of the Plan.  The main constraints on the suitability of this site are:

  • It is within 200 metres of an Air Quality Management Area
  • ‘some constraints identified by Highways’.  Could this refer to the substantial infrastructure improvement mentioned in Development Sites and Places which will be probably be resolved the LTB priority number 7 road project?
  • Some treatment of the ground needs to be attended to.
  • But the site  ‘is a location likely to highly attractive to the [executive housing] market.”

What are your views and suggestions?