'Shambles' and 'disgrace' say campaigners fighting 'new village' plans for protected Sheffield countryside, after fresh delay

Controversial plans for a 'new village' in protected Sheffield countryside have suffered a fresh delay, with campaigners branding the process a ‘shambles’ and a ‘disgrace’.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 02 June, 2019, 21:55

Councillors were due to finally decide at a planning meeting on Tuesday whether developers can build up to 93 homes on fields off Hollin Busk Lane, between Deepcar and Stocksbridge.

But protesters fighting the plans, which have generated nearly 500 objections, say the item has been pulled from the agenda just days beforehand.

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

Campaigners had urged as many opponents as possible to attend the meeting, after Sheffield Council’s planning officers recommended the development for approval.

They are furious that a decision has been delayed yet again, having already waited more than a year-and-a-half since Hallam Land Management – an arm of the construction giant Henry Boot – applied for permission.

Elaine Smith, of the Friends of Hollin Busk, said: “It seems to us that the planning department is disorganised and a shambles.

John Hesketh, chairman of the Upper Don Action Group (UDAG)

“Whatever it has found out today (Friday, May 31) to prevent this application going to committee should have been known at the pre-meeting on Tuesday.

“Indeed, we had good reasons to ask for a deferral, because of an issue around procedural matters, requested via our local councillors. This was refused.”

John Hesketh, chairman of the Upper Don Action Group (UDAG), said: “This latest cancellation is a disgrace. It’s scandalous and comes on top of delay after delay.

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“It’s only two months since a decision on the same item was pulled at the last minute in March. How on Earth are local residents in Deepcar and Bolsterstone meant to live a normal life?”

An email apparently sent by Sheffield Council to interested parties states that ‘due to the receipt of additional legal advice, we need to consider the report to the committee further’.

Hallam Land Management says the need for new homes outweighs the loss of green land at the 16-acre plot near Royd Farm, which is beside the Green Belt and close to the Peak District National Park.

But opponents have claimed it would ‘destroy’ the area’s ‘rural character’, ruining views, harming wildlife habitats and adding to congestion.

A total of 491 individual objections have been registered on the council’s planning portal, and Stocksbridge Town Council, Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, and the Campaign to Protect Rural England have all voiced their opposition.

The land is designated in the council’s own planning guidelines as ‘open countryside’ worthy of protection despite not falling within the green belt.

“Its rural character is greatly valued locally and there is no need to develop it as new housing can be provided on previously developed land within the urban area,” the policy states.

“Indeed, protection of the area makes a significant contribution to the character and distinctiveness of Stocksbridge.”

Sheffield Council’s website still has the item listed on the agenda for Tuesday’s planning & highways committee meeting, despite campaigners saying it has been withdrawn.

The Star will attempt to contact the council next week.