Newsletter 5 February 2014

Newsletter 5
Keep It Green 2014
Newsletter 5# – February 2014
The volunteers group has held three meetings to date, the latest one on 17 February 2014.
A number of issues and areas of concern have been examined, including:-
 It became clear from the public meeting held on 7 December last that local residents did not
know what was happening and had not had the opportunity, or know how, to submit
comments under the consultation process.
 The Council does not appear to regard local residents as “existing stakeholders” in this
process, even though the proposals do have a major short and long term impact on the
local area. This group does recognise residents as “existing stakeholders” in the process
and do, therefore, have a key role to play in future consultation procedures.
 It was noted that Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council (BMBC) held a consultation on the
draft Local Development Framework (LDF) in September 2012 but later announced that
this was being replaced by the preparation of a Local Plan, with further consultations within
a revised time scale. The reasons for this change have never been made fully clear by the
Council, though are probably there, if you dig deep enough.
 Sheffield City Region (SCR) held a consultation on the list of Sheffield City Region
Infrastructure Fund (SCRIF) schemes in September 2013. This was followed by the BMBC
consultation on the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) report in
October 2013. None of these was widely publicised, in spite of the potential impact on
Barnsley and its inhabitants.
 The short time-scale given for comments to be submitted under the SCRIF and SHLAA
consultations is unacceptable. It was noted, particularly in relation to the SCRIF
consultation, that this had been held after the list of SCRIF schemes had been submitted to
Government Office. In the event, it is understood that only 11 responses were received by
SCR for the whole of the South Yorkshire programme of schemes. Further questions have
been submitted to SCR seeking clarification on how these responses were summarised
and communicated to Government Office. In addition, it is understood that SCR are actively
working with “scheme promoters” on the delivery profiles of chosen schemes.
 Of particular concern is the unresponsiveness and apparent reluctance of BMBC to
become engaged, particularly in relation to E-Mail enquiries and detailed questions on
recent Council activities in the area, which had been submitted to the Council but which
remained unanswered, despite many reminders being sent.
 It is clear that there is a lot of behind the scenes activity with “scheme promoters” on which
“existing stakeholders” do not currently have an input. This does appear to demonstrate a
lack of transparency, inclusivity, accountability and openness with “existing stakeholders” in
the process.
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 There is a lot of pressure on BMBC to produce and hit development targets. Such is this
pressure that a lot of emphasis is being placed on development sites that are “attractive to
the market”. This means the likelihood of allowing development on good quality land, ie
Green Belt, rather than brown field sites which may need expensive remedial work.
 Money talks. Those of you who have monitored the Central Library move saga will know
that decisions have been taken at high level with apparently very little democratic input. Is
the same going to happen here?
So, what are we going to do about it? It was agreed that the group’s objective should be to prevent
further erosion of the Green Belt around Barnsley, concentrating initially on the area marked out in
BMBC’s SHLAA Consultation Map 5, with particular emphasis in the first instance on Site 215,
which directly affects Pogmoor, Higham, Gawber and Barugh Green. See the enclosed map,
which also includes part of Site 663, across the M1 from Higham.
The work of the group is seen as organising a co-ordinated response to BMBC’s development
plans, insomuch as early indications are that these will result in proposals for building on the Green
Belt.
To this end, requests under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) legislation have been sent to
BMBC, covering the very specific actions surrounding the preparatory work seen last year in the
fields behind Wharfedale Road, plus further questions aimed at getting answers to questions so far
ignored.
The actions agreed at the initial group meeting and developed since 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. Our next newsletter will include a report on responses.
2. Objective: Ascertain the position and views of local councillors and our local MP.
Action: Contact has been made with all affected councillors, whose response has been
relatively neutral, where a response has been received. One snippet of information
received informally is the suggestion that BMBC, in their need to attract higher-value
industry to Barnsley, will need to commandeer FOUR large Green Belt sites for industrial
buildings. Naturally, this information cannot be found in freely accessible sources.
Action: Our local MP, Angela Smith, met the group on 21 February 2014, gave some tips
on direction of travel and agreed to assist in achieving some results prior to the start of the
formal consultation process.
3. Objective: Prepare another leaflet for circulation, to widen public awareness.
Action: In preparation now, including a more explicit map for greater impact. The Electoral
Roll is being examined to identify the area we need to cover and the numbers of leaflets
resulting. We hope to use this issue to announce another public meeting (see below).
4. Objective: Carry out background research into the basic assumptions behind BMBC’s
proposals.
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Action: Our researches have shown that challenges to planning proposals will not be
taken seriously if the claims being made are not backed up with relevant facts. We are
looking into the claims being made by BMBC to support their proposals to see where the
challenges can be made. This is a long term effort.
5. Objective: Review the group’s “formalisation” options with the Pogmoor Area Residents
Association (PRA).
Action: Under discussion. A problem with merging our objectives with those of the PRA is
geography, PRA’s sphere of interest being quite limited. We will report further on this in the
next newsletter.
6. Objective: Start to make contact with outside organisations such as the Royal Society for
the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Yorkshire
Greenspaces Alliance (YGA), Community Voice on Planning (CoVoP), and others with
similar aims.
Action: Individual membership of YGA has been established. They are a source of very
valuable references and are sending information on new groups as they are formed.
Action: Contact has been established with CPRE, who are interested in helping us. We
hope to have their representative at the next public meeting.
7. Objective: What do we call ourselves and how do we get the message across?
Action: It’s difficult to create a catchy and acronym from the initials of the communities
affected, so we’ve settled on “Keep It Green”. A new email address has been set up to suit
(see below). We have also made a start on a website and are also considering settting up
a Facebook page. This will enable us to make better connections with like organisations.
What happens next?
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.
It can be seen that it is only a matter of 4 months before consultation commences on the draft
Local Plan document.
Your support and ideas are vital, therefore, in order to meet the challenges and threats to the
Green Belt in your area under the Local Plan Consultation process, and the likely proposals
therein.
To this end, we will be organising another public meeting before the official processes start, for
which we’ll need the maximum publicity. Local residents as “existing stakeholders” need to feel
that they have ownership of matters which affect their local area in both the short term and long
term, but be warned – getting to grips with this issue will cost money. Consideration will have to be
given therefore, to seeking your financial support at some point.
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This is where the leaflet comes in. We want to get the widest possible circulation, which will
involve the expense of producing the leaflet and the need for feet on the ground for distribution.
Any offers from people who can help to distribute the leaflets locally would be very welcome.
It is important that your voice is heard and that you have an input into matters which affect your
local area, rather having them imposed upon you.
Contact with the group can be made in the following way at the moment. A web address will follow
when set up.
Email: keep.it.green.group2014@gmail.com
Mobile: 07960 756419

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