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Local News

The Barnsley village being besieged by new housing estates – and it’s so bad residents want to move


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Less than 50 years ago, the village of Pilley, in Barnsley, was quiet and peaceful.

The picturesque village, set in the civil parish of Tankersley, was once a haven of countryside charm – with rolling hills seen for miles and fields full of livestock.

These days, however, the village is known to locals as a “dumping ground” for newbuild housing estates and industrial sites, which bring with them noise, road closures and the displacement of wildlife habitats.

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“If I was 30 years younger, I’d sell, there would be a ‘for sale’ sign outside and I’d be off to Scotland”, said 67-year-old George Meller, who has lived in Pilley his entire life.

Mr Meller has been living in his current house, in Lidgett Lane, for 45 years and has been left heartbroken by the construction of yet another new build estate just yards from his front door.

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He said: “Look at what they’re doing here, they’ve put these up and taken our view away – it was beautiful. But now we’re going to be looking straight into people’s bedrooms.

“There’s some bungalows built further down the site, why didn’t they put them up here so that we could look over them?”

He added: “They say that it’s going to put our house value up, how? All of that we can see, we’ll no longer be able to see; we’ll be looking straight into one another’s bedrooms.”

Mr Meller gestures to the current view, which is now partly obscured by the first few houses being constructed, of the aforementioned rolling hills and rows of trees on the horizon.

“It’s all over the area, they’re just building – wherever there’s a spare lot, they’re just putting a house up”, Mr Meller said.

Some Lidgett Lane residents want to sell their house and move away
Some Lidgett Lane residents want to sell their house and move away

The estate being constructed in front of his house is Pilley’s newest development St Paul’s Bank, which will be full of bungalows and four and five-bedroom houses when it is complete.

The land was once a farmer’s field and Mr Meller remembers spending time there as a young man, helping the farmer pick crops and he fondly recalls that it was also once full of sheep.

In recent years, he has enjoyed watching the wildlife use the space and said that one of his favourite things to do was to watch kestrels hunt over the fied, which was also home to foxes and other mammals.

“I’m a wildlife person, I love wildlife but it doesn’t mean anything to these developers”, Mr Meller said, “I used to be able to watch the kestrel make a kill and me and my wife would watch the foxes, but then people say ‘ah it’s just a fox’, it’s heartbreaking.”

He added: “The developers just don’t seem bothered by anything, they’re not bothered about anyone, they’re not bothered about wildlife – it’s just cruel.”

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Mr Meller’s neighbour, Ben Grain, is also up in arms about the development and he is concerned that the increase in people and vehicles will make it even harder to get in and out of the village.

Mr Grain, 35, said: “Every one of these houses is going to have two cars and families, and I’m not saying they shouldn’t, but they can’t force developments like this in areas which can’t cope with it.

“You’re filling these new houses with families, what is there for the kiddies to do? You can’t just start ramming people into an area with nothing for them to do.”

Other locals have long been complaining that the infrastructure in Pilley is not suitable for the constant construction of new estates, as the road system in and out of the village is not fit for purpose.

This is largely in part due to one of the industrial developments, which led to the closure of Tankersley Lane – the main road out of Pilley and into nearby Hoyland.

Residents in Lidgett Lane are just yards from a new development site
Residents in Lidgett Lane are just yards from a new development site

Now, residents need to drive 15 minutes out of their way to the M1 interchange in order to get to Hoyland, more than doubling the journey time.

Mr Grain, who moved to Pilley 12 years ago because he thought that it was peaceful, said that he has “no intention” of staying.

He said: “I’ll sell up, I moved here because it was quiet but I’ve got no intention of being here a long time.”

In nearby Silkstone Close, which lies at the bottom of the St Paul’s Bank development, opinion is divided on the construction of the estate.

One resident, who did not want to be named, said that it has not caused him or his family much trouble but he is concerned about the lack of infrastructure for new arrivals in the village.

He said: “The land used to be a cornfield and it’s always sad when you see agricultural land taken over for housing, but these things happen.

“My biggest concern with it was not that it’s happened, but the effect on the environment – the infrastructre environment – because the school is oversubscrbed already, so the more houses you put in, the further people will have to travel to get their kids to school.”

He added: “The council seems to have scant regard for anything else besides shovelling housing into Barnsley.”

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Couple Vicky and Tim moved to Silkstone Close two years ago and they admitted that, had they known about the construction, they probably would not have moved to the area.

Vicky said: “We only moved here two years ago and about 12 months after we moved in it all started, I did say to my husband ‘we moved in at the wrong time'”.

The couple also agreed that they have noticed an absence of wildlife since development started.

“Where they’re building now was just a big green field and it was full of peacocks”, Vicky said, “they’d come strutting down and it’s certainly deterred them which we found was sad.

“And we used to get bats, the first year we moved in we’d sit in the garden watching them and we don’t get them anymore.”

But, despite these losses, the couple are rather accepting of development in the area and believe it is important for houses to be built where they can.

Tim said: “It used to be a sleepy little village and, now, increasingly it is not. Nevertheless, it’s still a nice place to live.

“That’s progress, you’ve always got to have houses and you’ve always got to have industry.”

Though true as that may be, it is of little comfort to Mr Meller; who is slowly watching the “beautiful” landscape he grew up with transform into a concrete jungle.

“It was alright as it were”, he said.

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Written by: Rother Radio News

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