Loxley Valley Appeal – WE WON !!!!!!
Campaigners at CPRE and the Friends of the Loxley Valley pleased and relieved as the Planning Inspectorate refuses planning permission for controversial new housing in the Loxley valley
Tina Gilligan, chair of Friends of the Loxley Valley (FoLV), said: “We are delighted and relieved that the Planning Inspector has upheld the decision of Sheffield City Council to refuse planning permission for the proposed Loxley valley township.
“The result reflects the views of the many hundreds of local people who opposed the scheme.”
Planning Inspector Martin Whitehead has ruled that the proposed development of up to 300 homes on the old ‘Hepworth’ factory site would substantially harm Green Belt countryside.
He said the development was in breach of national planning policy, and would damage the special character of the Loxley valley.
He highlighted the Loxley river valley as an important ‘Green Corridor’ that required safeguarding.
The old factory buildings were in mature woodland that largely screened them from view, he said. In contrast, the proposed development would urbanise and intensify activity on the site, altering its character and encroaching into the countryside.
This would result in “a suburban domestic setting that would visibly increase activity and lighting and result in greater noise in the area both during the night and day”.
He said the development would lead to unacceptable loss of mature trees, and he was unconvinced that it would not damage ecology and biodiversity.
The site was also in a steep valley bottom and remote from local services – an unsustainable location that would leave new residents dependent on their cars for their everyday needs.
Mr Whitehead recognised that redeveloping the site would bring some benefits. But he ruled that developers Patrick Properties had failed to set out the very special circumstances needed to justify building on this scale in the Green Belt.
“The site would change from largely abandoned buildings in a woodland setting to a well-used, domestic residential, suburban area,” he said.
“The proposal would be harmful to the special character of the Loxley valley.”
Almost a thousand people objected to the original planning application. Numerous local groups and elected representatives added their voices, including the Sheffield Hallam and Hillsborough MPs, and the councillors for the local Stannington and Hillsborough wards.
The city council planning committee unanimously approved an officer’s report recommending rejection of the planning application. The site owners, Patrick Properties, then appealed against the decision, and a three-week long planning inquiry followed.
CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire (CPRE PDSY) and Friends of the Loxley Valley (FoLV) took part in the planning inquiry, arguing in support of the city council’s decision.
CPRE PDSY and FoLV told the Planning Inspector that the old factories do need cleaning up and restoration, but not in a way that causes more problems than it solves.
They argued that a new suburb of 300 homes would dominate the beautiful Green Belt valley bottom on the edge of the Peak District National Park.
They said it would create an unsustainable isolated enclave, leaving hundreds of residents dependent on their cars for most of their everyday needs.
Sheffield City Council voiced similar concerns, with powerful evidence on damage to greenbelt, landscape and ecology, including substantial tree loss. They also were clear that the site was an unsustainable location for large scale housing.
And local groups including the South Yorkshire Bat Group and Hallamshire Historic Buildings warned of the impact on biodiversity and industrial heritage.
“Now that the inquiry is over, local groups are ready to talk to the site owners, Patrick Properties, about alternative plans,” said Tina Gilligan.
“We are not resistant to change. Quite the opposite. Most of the old factory buildings have stood derelict for too long, and the last two years plus of stand-off has been exhausting for all concerned.”
FoLV and CPRE PDSY hope that there might now be scope for compromise. The Loxley valley is a remarkable place, providing a tranquil gateway from one of the UK’s biggest cities to the eastern edge of the country’s most-loved national park.
“We believe the old factory site can be redeveloped to achieve outstanding environmental standards that Sheffield can be proud of”, said Andy Tickle, head of campaigns at CPRE PDSY.
“With determination and willingness, we hope that all parties may now be able to work together to achieve that.’
“We want to say a huge ‘Thank You!’ to everybody who donated to our planning inquiry fighting fund. Hundreds of people gave generously which allowed FoLV and CPRE to make the strongest possible case at the public inquiry.”
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