Decision day at last for Sheffield ‘new village’ plans with nearly 500 objections

It is one of the most controversial developments in Sheffield’s recent history, triggering nearly 500 objections, and its fate is finally set to be decided.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 29 May, 2019, 10:24

Plans for what critics have dubbed a ‘new village’ with up to 93 homes in the Sheffield countryside are set to go before councillors next week – and planning officers have recommended they get the nod.

It is more than a year-and-a-half since Hallam Land Management submitted plans to build on fields off Hollin Busk Lane, between Deepcar and Stocksbridge, near Royd Farm.

Members of Sheffield Council’s planning & highways are due to decide next Tuesday, June 4, whether the plans should get the go-ahead in the face of huge local opposition.

Opponents, including Stocksbridge Town Council, Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, and the Upper Don Action Group (UDAG), have claimed the proposed development beside the green belt and close to the Peak District National Park would ‘destroy’ the area’s ‘rural character’, ruining views, harming wildlife habitats and adding to congestion.

But the applicant, which is an arm of the construction giant Henry Boot, argues that the need for new homes outweighs the loss of the green land, which is designated ‘open space’.

Outline plans for new homes at the 'Royd Farm village' site

Planning officers have recommended the development is given the go-ahead.

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They say that while government guidelines seek to preserve the ‘intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside’, this is outweighed by the need to provide more housing in the city and the fact, they claim, that the site’s transport links and access to local facilities make it suitable for new homes.

“On balance it is considered that the dis-benefits of the loss of open space and harm to the character and views of open countryside would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the proposal to provide open market housing and affordable housing, public open space and the associated economic, social and environmental benefits of the proposal,” they conclude.

Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust claimed building on the land, where it said previous applications have been rejected, would sever a ‘green finger’ sustaining local flora and fauna.

But the planning officers’ report states that although bird surveys carried out at the 16-acre plot beside the Fox Glen nature reserve identified eight species on the most-threatened ‘red’ list, the site did not support a ‘significant’ population.

John Hesketh, chairman of UDAG, said: “This proposal would destroy the rural character of this part of the Upper Don area. Sheffield has enough brownfield sites without eating into the countryside.”

He added: “It is scandalous that local people have had to wait two years for this hotly-contested planning application to be decided – but better late than never.

“Council planners have recommended approving the scheme, downplaying the impact on the green belt, the rural character of the area, wildlife habitat, and very real traffic problems. I only hope councillors on the planning committee form their own judgement and reject the advice of planning officers.

“Since the ‘new village’ idea was floated back in March 2017, UDAG has spearheaded local opposition to it. We are now urging everyone to attend the council’s planning meeting on June 4. All my experience tells me that planning committee members are swayed by local campaigners turning up in numbers.”

Full details of the planning meeting, which is due to take place at Sheffield Town Hall next Tuesday at 2pm, are available here.