The former Hepworth factory site on the edge of the Peak District

Loxley valley planning inquiry adjourns until Monday June 7th


The planning inquiry into the proposed redevelopment of the old Loxley valley factories has now adjourned until Monday 7th June.

We and CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire are taking part in the proceedings as a major, ‘Rule 6’ party thanks to your generous contributions to our planning appeal fighting fund.

This means we are putting our own evidence to the inquiry. We can also ask questions of the witnesses who are appearing on behalf of Patrick Properties.

We will present our closing submission to the Planning Inspector Martin Whitehead on the final day of the hearing in June once we have heard all the evidence.

We are arguing that the proposed township of up to 300 homes is the wrong development in the wrong place, and would transform the character of the Loxley valley.

What evidence have we presented so far?

We believe we have presented our case strongly during the first two weeks of evidence in April.

Andy Tickle from the CPRE presented our opening statement when the inquiry opened on Tuesday 13th April. He said we supported Sheffield City Council’s reasons for refusing planning permission.

He said the proposed development of up to 300 homes would dramatically change the pattern of settlement in the valley.

It would constitute significant urban sprawl into Green Belt countryside and damage Sheffield’s western rural fringe.

Andy told Planning Inspector Martin Whitehead the scheme failed to meet Government requirements for sustainable development.

He said a new settlement on this scale would be too far from local amenities, lacked viable walking or cycling routes, and would be poorly served by public transport.

We developed these points in more detail when our transport witness Anne Robinson took part in an inquiry round table discussion.

She said people living on the new housing site would be dependent on their cars.

Public transport would be poor, and walking and cycling journeys would be too far, on steep and sometimes hazardous public footpaths and rural roads.

Our planning consultant Andrew Wood presented detailed evidence on how the scheme would affect Green Belt countryside. He told the Planning Inspector that a sprawling housing scheme would dominate the valley bottom.

As an example of its impact, the old millpond at the centre of the site would lose its quiet rural character.

Trees could be lost, its banks would potentially be altered for flood defences, and its character would be transformed by a busy new road running next to it.

He told the inquiry the site needed more modest and sensitive development in keeping with its quiet Green Belt rural location on the edge of a national park.

Who else has given evidence to the inquiry?

The inquiry is considering an appeal by Patrick Properties Strategic Land against Sheffield City Council’s refusal of outline planning permission for up to 300 homes on the site of the old ‘Hepworth’ refractory works.

Sheffield City Council is defending its decision, arguing the refusal was made for valid planning reasons.

Both Patrick Properties and the council have produced expert witnesses to put forward their views on landscape and design, accessibility, ecology and biodiversity, contamination, and whether Sheffield is meeting Government targets to build enough new homes.

The South Yorkshire Bat Group have also given detailed evidence. They say too little is known about the impact of the redevelopment on protected species of bat.

Local people with strong views for and against the scheme took the opportunity to present their views to the Planning Inspector on the first day of the inquiry.

Speakers against the scheme included the Sheffield Hallam MP, Olivia Blake, and Stannington ward councillor Penny Baker. Both made strong points.

What happens next?

There wasn’t quite enough time, given scheduling problems to hear Patrick Properties’ planning witness give evidence.

He will do so when the inquiry resumes in June. Our barrister will cross-examine him on his evidence.

There will also be a session on what ‘conditions’ should be placed on the development if the Inspector allows the appeal and gives planning permission for it go ahead.

The ‘conditions’ are special safeguards, imposed to reduce impacts and to ensure that promises of benefits are kept.

Once the hearing has finished, the Planning Inspector may take some time to consider his verdict. The outcome may not be known until later in the summer.

Thank you so much for your fighting fund donations

Taking part in the inquiry has been hugely demanding. We would not have been able to do it without the remarkably generous donations to our ‘Save Loxley Valley’ fighting fund.

Thank you so much to every single person who has donated! Every single donation has helped us on the way.

We are proud to say that we have now exceeded our initial £15,000 target.

We do still have a little way to go to be certain we have covered all our costs, partly because the inquiry is taking longer than originally expected.

Our GoFundMe crowdfunder site remains open for donations. We would be deeply grateful for any further contributions.

Thank you again! Your support means so much to us.

Leave a Reply