The Extra Motorway Service Area Group scheme has attracted 29 letters of approval from major companies including Nabarro, Henry Boot, Ronseal and Irwin Mitchell, as well as Sheffield College, Sheffield University, Sheffield and Barnsley and Rotherham chambers of commerce, the Local Enterprise Partnership, the immediate past Master Cutler and two local farmers.
But it is vehemently opposed by environmental groups due to the loss of 16.28 acres of ancient Smithy Wood.
Andrew Long, chief executive of Extra MSA said, if approved, the scheme would generate £1million in business rates a year, create 300 jobs and contribute at least £200,000-a-year for 50 years to ‘protect and improve’ a minimum of 218 acres of woods.
The legally-binding plan for ‘Chapeltown Community Woodlands’, and proposals to plant thousands of trees, aims to ease concerns over the loss of 12th century woods. But he understood some people would never agree to it.
He added: “The design of the proposed buildings and their landscape setting is appropriately sensitive, minimising the loss of any existing woodland and protecting the majority of the better quality woodland.
“We recognise that some people may never accept that building on land which is partly designated as ancient woodland should be permitted, but Extra has adopted a responsible and professional approach, to deliver a comprehensive well-considered scheme that we believe many people will benefit from.
“This has been endorsed by the significant support we have received from many sources, including local community groups and various other organisations across Sheffield.
“We remain committed to ensuring that the majority of new job opportunities will be for local people.”
The plan is set to be decided by councillors on Sheffield City Council’s planning committee later in the year.
Extra unveils support for M1 services
The company behind plans for a £46m motorway service station in South Yorkshire has highlighted the support it has received.
Extra MSA Group hopes to build shops and services, a hotel, filling station and car park at Junction 35 of the M1.
It says it has also developed an ‘unprecedented’ benefits plan to offset the loss of 16 acres of ancient woods, including a legally-binding promise to spend £200,000-a-year maintain ing a 218-acre woodland for 50 years.
The firm says it has ‘engaged’ with more than 30 economic, education, cultural and community groups and staged three community workshops.
The Woodland Trust and Sheffield Wildlife Trust are opposed to the scheme saying the 12 century woodland is unique and ‘once it’s gone it’s gone’.
Some 29 letters of support have been sent.
Carol Bowman, of Walkworth Farm, Droppingwell Road, Kimberworth, Rotherham, states that Smithy Wood becomes a ‘giant muddy car park’ littered with vehicles parked up ‘anywhere possible’ in the surrounding area during the working week.
She adds: “It is the anti-social and illegal behaviour, motor bikes, drugs, cannabis dumps and fly-tipping which is destroying our heritage and certainly not the planning proposal with the commitment to secure our future... the woodland pathways are deep rutted and used as racetracks, ever widening to claim ‘better’ ground and to avoid burnt-out cars.’
Jackie Hall, of High Green Development Trust, states: “We fully support the proposal as we believe it will create jobs and opportunities for apprenticeships that will be of great benefit to our community.
“We believe that the proposed development will also help to tackle anti-social and illegal activity that has blighted some parts of the stretch of woodlands bordering the M1 between J35 and J35A.”
Paul Firth, regional managing partner at Sheffield law firm Irwin Mitchell states: “The scheme is of a high quality, is environmentally-friendly to the locality and will bring long-term employment opportunities in an area where more jobs and opportunity are required urgently.’
Extra has agreed to take 10 apprentices from The Sheffield College.
Iain McKinney, vice principal, says in a letter: “The proposal by Extra MSA Group to enter into a 50-year woodland management agreement with targeted measures to improve nature conservation, archaeological heritage management, integrated health and wellbeing measures and community amenity enhancements will provide an excellent learning environment and a range of educational opportunities.”
Extra states the scheme would create 400 jobs during construction and 300 during operation and be a catalyst for investment.