NEWSLETTER 6

Newsletter 6# – 29 March 2014
Following a successful public meeting on 7 December 2013, attended by up to 100 people,
a Steering Group was set up increase public awareness of the Council’s plans for building
over the Green Belt in the area between the communities of Pogmoor, Gawber, Redbrook,
Barugh Green and Higham.
The Council has been reluctant to engage with the Group, denying that anything will
happen prior to release of the Draft Local Plan Consultation documents in June of this
year. At the same time, there has been extensive on site surveying activity, plus rumours
as to the extent of this, suggesting plans for use of this land are well advanced.
After unsuccessful attempts to obtain meaningful information from the Council about their
plans for this land, in advance of the publication of the Local Plan Consultation, the Group
requested, and were granted a meeting with their MP, Angela Smith. She arranged for a
meeting to take place between the Group and the Council, which she will attend,
scheduled for Friday 4 April 2014.
An important aspect of preparation for this meeting was another public meeting to gauge
the strength of feeling in the communities affected. Approximately 1300 leaflets
advertising the meeting were printed and distributed by the Group to properties in all the
affected communities. The meeting was held at the Gawber Community Centre on Friday
21 March 2014. It was extremely well attended, with standing room only for latecomers
among the approximately 140 present.
The meeting was chaired by Mr Eric Illsley, who informed the meeting of the background
and the Group’s aims. He stressed the need for maximum participation by residents in all
affected communities in examining and challenging the Council’s proposals.
A presentation by Mr Ian Preddy followed, in which he provided further information on the
issues and presented slides showing the potential of loss of Green Belt under the plans,
the current uncertainties (see below) and reminders of some of the consequences of past
speculative development.
Mr Illsley then opened up the meeting for questions and comments and a long and lively
exchange followed. Concerns about a variety of issues were raised by several speakers,
details of which were noted for use in building the case against development. At the end
of the meeting, a collection was made to build a fighting fund for the Group’s future
activities and reflecting significant costs incurred up to that point. Donations amounting to
over £340.00 confirmed the good level of support for the Group’s aims. Address details
were collected from those attending, which showed that interest has now been registered
in all of the communities concerned.
In parallel with preparation for the meeting with the Council, and reflecting the lack of
response to concerns raised, Group members had issued requests for information, using
the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). There are strict time limits on responses to
such applications and the Group had expected to receive the requested information by 18
March 2014. At the last minute, notification was received from the Council that they are to
use different legislation, the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR), so that
they can extend the time allowed to reply. This is now scheduled for 3 April 2014.
The Group cannot understand why this change is appropriate, but the net result will be that
the responses to the FOIA requests will not now be received until just before before the
meeting with the Council takes place, if then, which will hamper preparations for the
meeting.
At the public meeting, the Group advised that they would issue another newsletter when
the results of the FOIA requests are available and the meeting with the Council has taken
place. They will also consolidate the feedback received at the meeting, for which the
Group was very grateful.
The actions agreed at the initial group meeting and reported in Newsletter 5# that are still
live can be summarised as:
1. Objective: Chase up outstanding answers from Sheffield City Region (SCR) and
Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council (BMBC), who are being very coy about
revealing what’s going on between now and the publication of the Local Plan in
June/July 2014
Action: FOIA requests submitted. Responses delayed, as noted above..
2. Objective: Ascertain the position and views of local councillors and our local MP.
Action: Local councillors (Dodworth and Darton W) were invited to the public
meeting but chose not to attend. No contact otherwise, other than the local Labour
candidate asking to be kept informed.
Action: The meeting with our MP, Angela Smith, on 21 February 2014, resulted in
the forthcoming meeting with BMBC. See above.
3. Objective: Carry out background research into the basic assumptions behind
BMBC’s proposals.
Action: Our research continues. This is a long term effort, the direction of which
will be dictated in part by the contents of the Local Plan Consultation.
4. Objective: Review the group’s “formalisation” options with the Pogmoor Area
Residents Association (PRA).
Action: It has been agreed with PRA that we will operate independently because
our area of interest extends well beyond their association’s stated boundaries and
they feel they must stay neutral in such matters. They will continue to provide
informal support and publicity.
5. Objective: Start to make contact with outside organisations and others with similar
aims. It is clear that this is not just a local issue with concerns on the possible loss
of Green Belt land being expressed nationwide.Action: Contact has been established and is maintained, with organisations having
similar concerns. It has been decided not to involve the Campaign to Protect Rural
England (CPRE) at this stage, as they prefer to operate across entire communities.
6. Objective: What do we call ourselves and how do we get the message across?
Action: Our new name (Keep It Green 2014) is now well established through
leafleting, the website, and Facebook. It has been registered with Yorkshire
Greenspaces Alliance and Community Voice on Planning (website links below).
What happens next?
As noted above:
The responses from the FOIA requests should be available on 3 April 2014.
The meeting with Angela Smith and BMBC’s Chief Planning Officer will take place on 4
April 2014.
The current time scales for BMBC’s preparation of the Local Plan are as follows:-
• Consultation on the draft document June/ July 2014;
• Consultation on the Publication version November/ December 2014;
• Submission April 2015;
• Examination in Public July 2015; Adoption November 2015.
We will report further after the meeting with BMBC and, hopefully, the FOIA responses are
to hand.
Ian Preddy
29.3.14
http://www.yorkshiregreenspacealliance.org.uk/
http://covop.org/

 

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