Campaign to protect wildlife site intensifies as residents object to 72 new Sheffield homes

Campaigners trying to protect a wildlife habitat say the lockdown has reinforced why green space is so important to their community.

By Lucy Ashton, local democracy reporter
Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 1:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 2:00 pm

Avant Homes has submitted plans to build 72 homes, the first phase of a housing development, on Owlthorpe Fields near Crystal Peaks.

Up to 500 homes are planned for the site, which Sheffield Council says has been earmarked for housing since the 1960s.

But residents have run a lengthy campaign to protect the land with 1,000 people signing a petition against developing it. More than 260 people have objected to the Avant Homes scheme.

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How the Avant Homes at Owlthorpe could look

Residents have been backed by Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Sheffield Tree Action Group, Sheffield branch of Friends of the Earth, Sheffield Bird Study Group and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species.

Christine Rippon, on behalf of Owlthorpe Fields Action Group, said: "The effect of the Covid-19 lockdown has brought into sharp focus the need for a local green space, such as Owlthorpe Fields.

"Where would residents be taking their allowance of daily exercise, if not in Owlthorpe Fields?

"The green corridors linking housing estates, although welcome, don’t provide the space required for physical and perhaps more importantly, the mental health of our communities.

"Many of us have long understood the need to protect Owlthorpe Fields before this pandemic, but now many more residents have become keenly aware of their value.

"Local residents here are appreciating more keenly than ever before, the beauty and tranquillity of Owlthorpe Fields."

Avant Homes says the site is a "logical location" for new housing and the ancient woodland could be used as an "attractive landscape setting".

“The majority of the Mosborough Townships took almost 20 years to complete, with some progress made with the construction of Halfway, Westfield and Waterthorpe by the late 1970s.

“Infilling of remaining areas continued throughout the 1980s and 1990s including the Moorthorpe Rise development, the first phase of wider site/allocation to which this application relates, which appears detached from the surrounding area."

Sheffield Council is still considering the plans, which can be viewed here: https://planningapps.sheffield.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=PWWI2FNYLV700