Permission granted for seven homes near Foers Wood despite wildlife concerns

Plans for seven new houses in Aston have been given the go-ahead by councillors – despite wildlife concerns, and an impassioned plea from the owners of a woodland wildlife site next door.

By Danielle Andrews, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 29th April 2021, 1:20 pm

Land at the back of 91 to 95 Worksop Road will be used to build five, five-bed houses and two three bed houses with garages, now plans have been approved.

Plans for 16 homes for the site were knocked back in 2013, although it was recommended for approval, because of road and pedestrian safety concerns.

A separate application for 22 homes was refused in 2000, because of worries that the adjacent woodland would be damaged by surface water drainage works.

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The meeting.

The developer has agreed to pay Rotherham Council £70,000 towards affordable housing in the area.

Mark Boyd told the meeting of Rotherham Council’s planning board on March 29 on behalf of the applicant : “It’s acknowledged that some local residents are concerned about potential impact on the local wildlife side, and wildlife species present in the local area.

“However, it is reiterated the all of these matters are being addressed at the satisfaction of local authority, with the buffer zone in particular area that will remain suitable as a foraging, resting or commuting habitat for local wildlife.

“The development will deliver high quality housing befitting its location, contributing to the vitality and sustainability of the settlement of Aston and and the surrounding area.”

The council has received 16 letters of objection, including one from Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, and one from the Aughton cum Aston Parish Council.

Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust wrote to the council with their concerns about Foer’s Wood, a wildlife site on green belt land to the north of the development.

The letter says that Foer’s Wood is a wet woodland, and may be sensitive to any hydrological changes – which the trust says has not been properly investigated by the applicant.

The applicants say the water from the site will be piped around the edges of the development, so water will not run into the woods.

Jennifer Foers, owner of the wood, urged the board to refuse the application.

She told the meeting: “We have owned, cared and managed our wood for 26 years. This is now the third time I’ve had to speak before a planning board to defend it.

“We told the developers we will not accept any run off and it’s contaminants onto our land.

“Excavation work will cut through tree roots of veteran trees, which extend eight to 12 metres into the adjacent field.

“Protect this valuable wet woodland site for generations to come.”

Brian Mears, chairman of the Aston history group, told the meeting that the land is an “area of significant history”, and should be “protected and conserved.”

He asked the board to reject the application, adding: “This is an area of significant history with several old buildings close by, and was connected to several notable and important families.”

Councillor Alan Atkin said he was “quite happy” with the plan, after refusing the previous application in 2013, when he objected because the previous application would have encroached into the woods, unlike this one.

Coun Cowles: “Residents views are just not considered to be worthy of any support at all as far as I can see.”, before leaving the meeting.

Councillor Rose McNeely said she had “serious concerns” that a speed survey to support the application was undertaken nine years ago, adding that traffic had increased “tenfold” since then.

However, the application was passed, with councillors Atkins, Bird, Sansom, Walsh and Williams voting for, and councillors Cowles, McNeely and Whysall voting against.