A final decision on a bid to create a village green at Smithy Woods in Chapeltown will rest with Sheffield Council – despite it going to an inquiry.
The Woodland Trust has also said the council licensing committee’s decision to refer the community bid last week showed councillors had ‘succumbed to the pressure of hot shot lawyers working for big business’.
Cowley Residents’ Action Group put in the bid for a green, it said to protect the woods from damage caused by vehicles.
Separate, controversial plans to create an Extra motorway service station there – which have been objected to by thousands – have also been submitted.
Lawyers acting for landowner St Paul’s Development called for the village green bid to go to inquiry at the committee meeting on Thursday.
The decision to do so is one campaigners fear will mean the village green bid is decided long after plans for the motorway service station, rendering it ‘null and void’.
Oliver Newham, Woodland Trust campaigner, said the fight would continue.
He added: “It is a disappointment the committee succumbed under the pressure of hot shot lawyers working for big business with big pockets, rather than hear the case.
“Many local people gave up their time to give evidence for something they truly care for.
“Sadly, their voice was not heard due to a last minute delaying tactic.”
The council must foot the bill for the inquiry, which will make a recommendation back to the licensing committee for a final decision.
A timescale for the inquiry is not known, although a village green bid in Dore took three years to conclude.
Coun Geoff Smith, committee chair, said he had ‘nothing to add’ to the decision which said councillors listened ‘carefully’ and decided it was in the ‘interests of natural justice’ to hold an inquiry. It was in ‘everyone’s interests’ it was organised as quickly as it could be.