Controversial plans for new motorway services near Sheffield withdrawn
Controversial plans to developed ancient woodland near Sheffield into motorway services have been withdrawn –but campaigners say the five-year battle to preserve the land is not over.
An application from the Extra Motorway Service Area Group to turn the 800-year-old Smithy wood off junction 35 of the M1, near Chapeltown, into a service station was withdrawn today.
The plans, which included a hotel, filling station, parking, dog walking area and outside picnic space, were originally submitted to Sheffield City Council in 2014.
But they were met with fierce opposition from nearby residents fighting to save the woodland, who looked after the upkeep of the site in the meantime. The Woodland Trust say more than 8,000 people supported the campaign to save the site.
Sheffield Council had been due to make a decision on the future of the land before the application was withdrawn.
A statement from the Smithy wood campaign said: “We really welcome today's news that MSA Extra have withdrawn their application to develop a major motorway service area on Smithy Wood, a semi-natural ancient woodland and Local Wildlife Site near J35 of the M1.”
Liz Ballard, chief executive of Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust, described the news as “fantastic”, but warned the fight was not over.
She said: “We had an incredible amount of support from hundreds of people across Sheffield answering our call to join our peaceful protest, write letters and submit objections. So this is down to everyone who took action to help Save Smithy Wood - thank you.
“For this wood to be saved for local people and wildlife we now ask St Pauls as land owners to work with us so that we can secure this woodland for future generations to enjoy.”
Councillor Bob Johnson, cabinet member for transport and development, added he was “delighted” with the news.
He said: “I know the strength of feelings and concerns there were locally about the original proposal, so this will come as great news to many”.
For more information about the Smithy wood campaign click here.