MP criticises developers as planning inquiry opens into controversial Sheffield housing estate

A planning inquiry has opened after councillors overwhelmingly blocked a new housing estate on a Sheffield wildlife haven.

By Lucy Ashton, Local Democracy Reporter
Tuesday, 12th January 2021, 4:45 pm

Richard Sagar, on behalf of Avant Homes, told the inquiry that any development would seek to “avoid, mitigate then compensate” for any negligible impact on nature.

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Avant Homes wants to build 74 properties on Owlthorpe Fields.

“The retained habitats will be enhanced and there is no reason related to harm to ecology or wildlife that would warrant the refusal of permission,” he said.

“The principle of housing development on the site is not disputed by the council. The site was identified as a housing site by policy.

“It isn’t appropriate to refuse, simply because there may be, in the view of others, possibly some better scheme. This is not the way the planning system works in relation to affordable housing.”

Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts supported the council’s refusal.

Sheffield south east MP Clive Betts

He said any housing should be part of a wider masterplan with more affordable homes.

“I’m extremely disappointed that following the planning committee’s decision I wrote to Avant Homes and suggested they join in a master planning process, they replied saying they would look at it and come back to me but they never did,” he said.

“It’s disappointing that opportunities to really engage with the community to find a compromise, which allowed homes to be built in a way that was more generally acceptable and protected more of the environment, was simply rejected.

“Instead of having this hearing today we could have sat around a table together looking at the future of the site in a positive and consensual way, a future which would have produced a much better scheme with a mix of houses, more of the open space and valued environment preserved.”

The online inquiry is due to last six days and can be viewed here

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