Friends of the Loxley Valley welcome planning inquiry decision

We are delighted and relieved that the Planning Inspector has upheld Sheffield City Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for the proposed Loxley valley township.

The Inspector, Martin Whitehead, has just announced his decision following the three-week planning inquiry hearing in April and June.

He 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”.

Mr Whitehead 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.”

Our reaction

Friends of the Loxley Valley believe the result is a victory for common sense. It reflects the views of the many hundreds of local people who opposed the scheme.

Almost a thousand people objected to the original planning application. Numerous local groups and elected representatives added their voices, including our two local MPs, and the councillors for our local wards.

Thank you to everybody who supported us

Friends of the Loxley Valley and CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire would like to say a huge “Thank You!” to everybody who donated to our planning inquiry fighting fund.

Your commitment and generosity made it possible for us to participate fully in the planning inquiry alongside Sheffield City Council.

We told the Planning Inspector that local people want the old factories cleaned up and the site restored. But not in a way that causes more problems than it solves.

We 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.

It would also have created an unsustainable isolated enclave, leaving hundreds of residents dependent on their cars for most of their everyday needs.

Sheffield City Council voiced similar concerns.

The council presented powerful evidence on damage to Green Belt, 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.

We now hope to resume talks with the developers

Now that the inquiry is over, we hope to resume talks with the site owners, Patrick Properties, about alternative plans.

We are not resistant to change. Quite the opposite. Most of the old factory buildings have stood derelict for too long. 

We hope that there might now be scope for compromise. The Loxley valley is a remarkable place, providing a gateway from one of the UK’s biggest cities to a remote corner of the country’s most-loved national park.

We hope the old factory site can be remediated to achieve outstanding environmental standards that Sheffield can be proud of.

With determination and willingness, we hope that all parties may now be able to work together to achieve that.

Please consider supporting the local CPRE

Friends of the Loxley Valley would like to thank CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire for their unwavering help and support in fighting the long planning battle.

Our two organisations worked closely together to object to the original planning application. We then presented a strongly argued joint case to the planning inquiry.

Friends of the Loxley Valley could not have done this alone. The planning system is complicated, daunting and difficult to understand for local people who want to make their views known. The CPRE team provided invaluable planning expertise and experience.

The local CPRE depends entirely on charitable donations. FoLV urges all members and supporters to donate to CPRE PDSY and to consider becoming a member of the local charity.

You can donate or join online here:


What a good result. Sorry I am not able to give more support.

Great news! There was no thought about services like doctors, schools, roads. E.G. I’ve just booked doctor’s appointment, almost four weeks away, and I’ve lived here 33 years!

So common sense won in the end. Thanks to Martin Whitehead for his wisdom, and to the Council, campaigners, financial contributors and all those who collaborated and worked hard to make sure this appeal failed.

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