PLANS for an exclusive school and worship hall at North Anston have been submitted to the council.
The Brethren, a Christian fellowship, have bought 7.5 acres of land between Common Road and Todwick Road, next to Thornberry Animal Sanctuary and submitted plans for an independent school and gospel hall to Rotherham Council.
This week the plans divided Anston Parish Council when it discussed the application at its monthly parish council meeting.
Councillors voted by a majority to object to the plans on various grounds including traffic concerns, the dangerous crossroads and because it is planned for greenbelt land.
The land is currently protected under greenbelt planning policy which aims to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land open and natural.
The policy about building on greenbelt land can be broken if special circumstances apply, and the Brethren believe their proposals meet the relevant criteria.
One of the councillors against the proposal, Coun Stuart Thornton, said it would bring nothing to the community of Anston other than additional vehicles.
“I always object to any buildings being built on greenbelt and this planning application is in greenbelt,” he added.
On Sundays - the main day of worship - up to 500 Brethren members could congregate at the new gospel hall.
But another councillor Judy Dalton said she was ‘cautiously supportive’ of the application.
She said the current school on an industrial estate in Hellaby is too cramped for pupils and several councillors agreed with her views that if the application improves the dangerous crossroads then it should be supported.
“I agree that the crossroads are incredibly dangerous but if it as part of the application there is to be an improvement to the crossroads then I would be in favour,” she added.
One councillor Robin Stonebridge described it as a “trojan horse development.”
He said: “This is a trojan horse development. It’s the only building that doesn’t have a permitted agricultural purpose.”
“If we have that current land taken up then quite clearly everything between the old railway line and the builders yard is up for grabs and the fact that Clive (Coun Jepson) has just said there is a reference to future commercial purpose and change of the road suggest that it is already eyed for that.”
The Brethren say they had searched and analysed more than 70 sites before settling on North Anson.
Sarah Foster, community consultation co-ordinator for the project, said the plans have received positive feedback from the local community.
She said: “The Brethren community consulted with the local people in September last year and overall they received a positive response to their proposals, from both the neighbouring properties, and those who attended the consultation events.”
Mrs Foster felt it was ‘disappointing’ that the parish council had voted not to support the application.
The plans can be viewed on Rotherham Council’s website and the consultation period continues to run until 13th December.
Anyone who requires information about the plans or has any queries should contact Mrs Foster on 01249 750168 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.