Over the last few years many of Sheffield’s former school playing fields have been lost to development for residential housing.
This represents an important loss of recreational green space for local communities. Many of these sites are, or were, originally council owned.
There are many small areas of derelict land around the city more suitable for development.
Use of such unused sites would reduce the pressure to develop further sports grounds and fields.
The bulldozers had already demolished one bungalow and were moving onto the one next door.
These houses were being removed so that a road could be built allowing access to the planned housing development behind (Hemsworth Road, Norton, S8).
The large open field, previously a favourite with local dog walkers and playing children was being sacrificed to meet Sheffield’s housing needs.
Sheffield has lost a considerable number of such green spaces in recent years. Many were school playing fields, formerly council owned. Permission to develop such sites appears to be granted in a straightforward manner.
This is despite the fact there are numerous smaller sites of derelict land around the city which could be developed instead.
Some examples of lost playing fields:
Abbeydale Tennis Club: Permission was granted for the development of housing on the tennis courts in October 2017. Privately owned. (15/03543/REM).
Abbeydale Grange School, Hastings Road: Permission was granted for the building of 58 houses on the former school site in October 2015 (15/03543/REM).
Fir Vale School Playing Fields: Earl Marshall Road/ Barnsley Road. Permission for 59 houses was granted in March 2015. (REF 15/00659/FUL).
Greaves Lane, Stannington: Permission for 39 homes on the former school site at Stannington was granted in September 2017. (17/0711/FUL).
King Ecgbert School, Furniss Avenue: 58 houses have been built on the school site. Permission granted May 2015. (15/01504/FUL).
Park Grange: Cardock Road/ City Road. Permission for the building of 96 houses was granted in November 2016. (REF 16/04516/FUL).
Parson Cross College: Permission for the building of 79 houses on the former college site at Remington Road was granted in August 2016 (REF: 16/03038/FUL).
Stannington Cricket Ground: Permission for development was recently granted for 19 houses on the former village cricket ground attached to the Crown and Anchor pub at Stannington. This was despite it being classed as an open green site. This application received numerous complaints from local users.
Westfield School: Permission for the building of 150 houses was granted in August 2011 (16/00375/FUL).
This is only a selection. Former school sites have been developed upon at Bluestone Primary School, Norfolk Park; St John’s School on Manor Oaks Road; the former Sheffield Hallam campus at Psalter Lane; and the Bannerdale Centre/ Bannerdale School site. Parts of playing fields belonging to schools have also been sliced off and built upon at Hazlebarrow Lane, Jordanthorpe, Matthews Lane, Norton, and elsewhere in the city.
The city abounds with areas of derelict land. Most are small in size and privately owned. But small developers and householders wishing to slot houses onto such derelict land encounter problems overcoming the ‘Sheffield Development Framework’, also known as the ‘Local Plan’.
This is a nationally required document detailing which types of development proceed in specific parts of the city. The idea is that broad areas of similar land use develop instead of a mosaic of varied land uses. This ensures that retail estates are kept out of residential areas and away from schools. Industry is not sited near to housing. And that playing fields are protected.
However, often the rigidity of the plan means development in suitable places is hindered. Those with derelict land find they can not obtain planning permission because their land is the ‘wrong’ classification. Thus derelict pig farm buildings in Millhouses, surrounded by modern housing, are currently classified as a ‘recreational site’. Other private developers wishing to utilise small parcels of derelict land encounter similar problems.
One recent development at Meadowhead, a predominately urban location, was required to undertake a badger survey. This was despite the area being only small in size and surrounded on all sides by housing.
One cannot help contrast the ease with which planning permission is granted on former school sites, which are often reclassified as brownfield sites or have slivers of open space removed for development. A level playing field for all could ensure precious green space in the city is preserved and derelict unsightly areas utilised to their full.
A new version of the Sheffield Development Framework/ Sheffield Local Plan, to be known now as the ‘Sheffield Plan’, is being currently drafted.
This will be used to direct development in the city until 2034. The draft version was originally meant to have been published for public consultation last Autumn, but is behind schedule. The new timeline is for it to be published for public comment this spring. Those with an interest in development should examine this plan carefully. Are more playing fields and school sites being developed?