Back into talks over college housing plan

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COUNCILLORS have asked their planning officers to go back into negotiations over a controversial housing development in Sheffield’s green belt.

Sheffield College hoped to secure outline planning permission yesterday to be build dozens of houses on its old Loxley College site in Stannington.

But councillors on the city’s west and north planning board voted to defer the decision after officers made a last-minute change to the conditions of the scheme.

The development, which has been opposed by Stannington residents since it was first suggested more than seven years ago, would involve the demolition of the derelict college buildings and the construction of new houses on green belt land.

Sheffield College had asked for outline permission to build 75 detached and semi-detached houses on the college site, which has been vacant since 2005.

In discussions in the weeks before the meeting, officers persuaded the college to reduce the planned number of houses on the site to 71.

But when the college’s planning agent, Janet Hodson of JVH Town Planning Ltd, arrived at the Town Hall yesterday, she discovered the officers had made a last-minute change to the terms of the application, reducing the permitted number of properties again, to 67.

She told the board: “I have never seen this condition before and cannot agree to it.

“It is not based on any rationale that I can see. Those four units could make all the difference to how deliverable the scheme is.”

Planning officer John Williamson admitted the change had been made ‘at the last minute’, but said: “We feel there are issues with the layout as it stands. We can get a better layout on the site with 67 houses than with 71.”

Councillors asked officers to go back into negotiations.

Coun Bob McCann said: “If this is passed it will be something the applicants have not agreed to and that they do not want to build.

“Whoever is developing this site is doing it to make a profit. We would be asking them to knock profit off the site. If we approve this it will not be worth the paper it is printed on.”