Controversial plans to build on the rumoured site of a ‘Roman Ridge’ in Sheffield have been withdrawn in the face of huge opposition.
But the developer, which claims new evidence shows the historic landmark does not run through the plot as previously believed, plans to submit revised plans very soon.
Investates Limited had applied to build 22 homes designed for people with disabilities on open space off Sandstone Road in Wincobank, and councillors were due to make a decision next Tuesday, April 23.
READ MORE: Two former Sheffield pubs hit by fires
The application was withdrawn after Sheffield Council’s planning officers recommended it for refusal, but the developer expects to submit a new bid ‘within weeks’.
More than 2,700 people have signed an online petition opposing the planned homes, which they say would ruin an ancient landmark once stretching from Sheffield city centre to Mexborough and is now believed to have been built as a defensive barrier by Celtic warriors pre-dating the Romans.
They also argued the plans would destroy views from Wincobank’s iron age hill fort, a scheduled ancient monument overlooking the area.
Recommending the application for refusal, planning officers stated that it would have a ‘harmful impact’ on the setting of ancient monuments, 'which would undermine the ability to understand their significance’, and would result in the loss of open space ‘valued by the local community'.
They also said that although fresh archaeological evidence submitted by the developer 'adds a little more weight’ to the argument that the Roman Ridge passed below the plot, neither Historic England nor the South Yorkshire Archaeology Service accepted this was ‘convincing’ proof.
The petition founder Bridget Ingle, of the Friends of Wincobank Hill, claims the Roman Ridge has the same historical value as Hadrian's Wall and Offa’s Dyke.
She said: “We’re delighted the application has been withdrawn. The hill’s safe for a bit longer but for how long we don’t know.
“The petition showed the massive amount of public support not just within Sheffield but across the country and further afield from people who are genuinely concerned about architectural heritage and how that fits within the community.”
The developer said the plot was blighted by littering and dog fouling, and it accused people of trespassing on private land, but opponents insisted this was not true and that the claim was an attempt to ‘smear’ the local community.
Sharren Wright, of Investates, said: “The application will go back in once we have addressed the issues the planner raised, which we don’t believe are insurmountable, and we expect this to happen within weeks rather than months.
“This is a private piece of land which we have conclusive evidence did not form part of the Roman Ridge, and just because the friends group doesn’t want homes there isn’t a good enough reason to recommend refusal for disabled living houses.
An earlier application for housing on the plot had been rejected by councillors in 2012, and that decision was upheld on appeal the following year.