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Friends of the Loxley Valley members hold second footpath trimming session

Friends of the Loxley Valley members hold second footpath trimming session

Friends of the Valley members have this week held a second footpath trimming session to help keep the main valley bottom footpath clear of overgrowing vegetation.

We pruned and trimmed the ‘tapping rail’ between Olive Mill and Rowell Bridge and lightly pruned a bit of tree growth that was dropping below head height.

We also cleared a few bits of dog muck that were on the path near Rowell Bridge, (come on folks, there’s a pooh bin there!).

It was the second time we’ve worked on this stretch of path, following our first session last month, (see earlier news post here).

We finished work on the path a bit earlier than we expected, so we then nipped across the river to clear some badly overgrown duckboards on the parallel footpath.

FoLV would like to thank all the members who’ve volunteered to take part in the work sessions. Our voluntary work helps the council’s hard-pressed public rights of way team to concentrate on urgent repairs from a very limited budget.

Work sessions are open to all Friends of the Loxley Valley members. Membership is open to all. See the ‘Get Involved’ page on this website for more information.

Photograph of overgrown duckboards on the south side of the river.

This duckboard bridge is on the footpath on the south side of the river. It was disappearing under shrubbery and grass, so we tidied it up.

Friends of the Loxley Valley members working to clear the overgrown duckboards

Friends of the Loxley Valley members working to clear the overgrown duckboards

Photograph of the duckboards after we cleared the vegetation

Job done! We’ve cleared the duckboards of overgrowth. Walkers can see the way ahead and get across without stumbling or tripping.

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Friends of the Loxley Valley taskforce trims valley bottom footpath

Friends of the Loxley Valley taskforce trims valley bottom footpath

A Friends of the Loxley Valley taskforce has cleared and tidied a section of the valley bottom footpath to keep it clear of obstruction and accessible to all.

A team of nine FoLV members spent two hours cutting back overgrowth and clearing the tapping rail for people with visual impairments.

We did the work on the “easy access” stretch of footpath between Rowell Bridge and Olive Mill.

We also cleared a branch that had fallen across the path, and tidied up dog pooh that had been left on the path.

We’ve agreed the community stewardship work with the public rights of way unit at Sheffield City Council.

We’ve said we’ll try to keep the path free of overgrowth and other obstructions. And we’ll keep the tapping rail alongside the path clear. This is so that people can feel their way along the path using walking aids.

We hope this will help the council’s footpaths team to concentrate on urgent repairs with a limited budget. They’ve recently repaired broken and missing sections of the tapping rail.

Thanks to Bradfield Parish Council

This was our first practical work session. It follows a generous £200 grant from Bradfield Parish Council that helped us pay for work signs, hi-vis jackets, and public liability insurance. Thank you!

Friends of the Loxley Valley members spent two hours doing the work on Saturday, May 28th. Our next session is from 6pm to 8pm on on Tuesday, June 14th. All members are welcome.

Friends of the Loxley Valley members with footpath maintenance tools

Friends of the Loxley Valley members working on the valley bottom footpath.

Easy Access Trail with tapping rail

The section of footpath from Rowell Bridge to Olive Mill is part of an Easy Access Trail.

The then Sheffield City Council leader David Blunkett (now Lord Blunkett) opened it in 1985.

It features a wide firm surface suitable for wheelchairs. And it has a tapping rail that people with visual impairments can use to help find their way along the path. The path features in this short video from Sheffield’s Outdoor City team…

Photograph of Easy Going Trail sign

The footpath between Rowell Bridge and Olive Mill is part of an Easy Going Trail.

Photograph of sign commemorating the opening of the footpath

This section of footpath was opened by Sheffield City Council leader David Blunkett in 1985.

Friends of the Loxley Valley footpath volunteers after tidying the footpath.

Friends of the Loxley Valley taskforce volunteers after trimming and tidying the footpath. From left: Diana and Alex Conheeny, Tina Gilligan-Kubo, Joanne Lee, Richard Williams, Richard Clark. (missing are Sophie who was still busy trimming, Pete who was doing a bit of tool maintenance, and David who was behind the camera)

 

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Friends of the Loxley Valley receive £200 community grant from Bradfield Parish Council

Friends of the Loxley Valley receive £200 community grant from Bradfield Parish Council

Friends of the Loxley Valley are delighted to have received a £200 grant from Bradfield Parish Council to help us to do environmental work around the valley.

The community grant award will pay for public liability insurance and a set of high vis safety vests.

It will make it possible for FoLV members to start projects such as footpath maintenance work and litter picks.

Initially, we hope to start work along the stretch of “Easy Access” footpath between Rowell Lane and Olive Mill.

We hope to help keep it clean and tidy, and to help keep the “tapping rail” alongside the path clear of vegetation.

We will also do similar work along a short stretch of footpath further down the valley, between Loxley Road and Low Matlock Lane.

Bradfield Parish Council Chair Councillor Stephen Bennett presented the £200 cheque to FoLV treasurer Andrew Holmes and secretary Stewart Kemp before a recent parish council meeting.

“Friends of the Loxley Valley would like to thank Councillor Bennett and his fellow parish councillors for this generous community grant,” said Stewart Kemp.

“The money will help our members to work safely and visibly as we begin to do practical work around the valley.

“We’re all aware of the financial pressures facing local councils as they try to keep on top of countryside management and footpath maintenance work.

“We hope that FoLV members working as community volunteers will help to keep the Loxley valley looking at its best.”

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Wadsley and Loxley Commoners to stage summer art show

Wadsley and Loxley Commoners to stage summer art show

The Wadsley and Loxley Commoners (WALC) are appealing for local artists to show off their talents at a summer art show.

If you’re inspired by your visits to the Common, WALC ask you to express yourself artistically so that they can showcase how the Commons have fired people’s imaginations.

They’re asking for paintings, collage, photography, sculpture, or anything else that’s inspired by the Commons.

“You don’t need a lot to get going, just an interest, imagination perhaps, possibly observation, a few materials or even found objects, and a wish to have a go,” say WALC.

“Children’s art work is very welcome and would be lovely to have too. Its for all ages!”

The art will be put on public display at the RIVA cafe on Laird Road from Tuesday 14th to Friday 17th September, and at Wadsley Church Hall on the evening of Saturday 18th September.

They ask you to take your artistic work to the church hall from 4pm to 6pm on Friday 10th September.

Alternatively you can contact the organisers Jenny Laird or Hannah Isherwood to find out more.

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Friends of the Loxley Valley welcome planning inquiry decision

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: https://www.cprepdsy.org.uk/get-involved/become-a-member/

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Loxley valley planning inquiry – Inspector considers his decision

Loxley valley planning inquiry – Inspector considers his decision

The Planning Inspector in the Loxley valley inquiry is now considering his decision after hearing all the evidence and visiting the site of the old Hepworth refractory works.

The Inspector, Martin Whitehead, ended the inquiry on Thursday, June 10th.

He then visited the site the following day to view the factory buildings in the light of the evidence presented.

The parties to the inquiry presented their closing submissions on the final day of the appeal hearing.

Mr Whitehead will now assess all the evidence. He must decide whether to uphold the appeal by the developers Patrick Properties Strategic Land Ltd.

The developers are appealing against Sheffield City Council’s refusal of planning permission for up to 300 homes.

Before closing the inquiry, Mr Whitehead said he hoped to reach his decision ‘within the next few weeks – it certainly will be within a month’

Thank you for your support

Friends of the Loxley Valley would like to thank everybody whose support and fighting fund donations made it possible for us to take part in the inquiry.

We and CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire took part as a joint ‘Rule 6 party’, supporting the city council’s refusal of planning permission.

This meant could present our own evidence and ask questions of the other parties.

In our closing submission, we argued that the proposed redevelopment was far too large.

We said it would create an isolated car-dependent township in Green Belt countryside that should be protected from large suburban housing schemes.

Please click here to read or download our closing submission to the planning inquiry

Thank you again to everybody who supported our case. We now await the Inspector’s decision.

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Loxley valley planning inquiry resumes for final three days

Loxley valley planning inquiry resumes for final three days

The planning inquiry into the proposed redevelopment of the old Loxley valley factories will resume today, Monday June 7th, for a final three days of evidence.

The factory owners, Patrick Properties, are appealing against Sheffield City Council’s refusal of planning permission for up to 300 homes on the site.

Friends of the Loxley Valley and CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire are taking part in the inquiry. We are arguing the council was right to refuse permission.

Planning Inspector Martin Whitehead must decide whether to uphold the appeal.

He heard two weeks of evidence in April before adjourning the inquiry until today.

He is holding the inquiry online because of the continuing Covid restrictions.

The Planning Inspectorate are live-streaming proceedings via a public video feed on their YouTube channel:

What will happen this week?

The inquiry is due to resume at 2pm today, Monday June 7th.

Patrick Properties main planning witness Gary Halman will present his evidence. The other parties will then cross examine the evidence.

Mr Halman is due to continue on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, the inquiry will consider what conditions and obligations Patrick Properties should be required to meet IF the inspector decides to uphold the appeal.

The parties to the inquiry will make their closing submissions on Wednesday after considering all the evidence.

For a summary of the evidence we have presented so far, please see our earlier news post from when the inquiry adjourned:

When will the outcome be known?

The Planning Inspector must take time to consider all the evidence after the inquiry closes.

He will also visit the old factory sites in the light of the evidence. This will help him to consider the impact on the Loxley valley of the proposed development.

He is expected to announce his decision later this summer.

Thank you for your donations to our fighting fund

Friends of the Loxley Valley and CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire would like to thank everybody who has donated to our online fighting fund.

Your kind donations have covered the costs of preparing for the inquiry, and made it possible for us to take part. Thank you again!

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Loxley valley planning inquiry adjourns until Monday June 7th

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.

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What happens next in the Loxley valley planning inquiry

What happens next in the Loxley valley planning inquiry

The planning inquiry into the proposed redevelopment of the old Loxley valley factories begins its second week of hearing evidence today, Monday April 19th.

This post briefly summarises what has happened so far. We summarise what the appeal hearing is all about. We also explain what is due to happen this week and later. And we explain why it will take some time before the Inspector’s decision is known.

What has happened so far?

In the first week of the inquiry, the parties presented their opening statements. Concerned members of the public were able to state their views for and against the scheme.

And the Planning Inspector chaired ‘Round Table’ discussions to assess whether Sheffield has a five-year supply of housing land, what the ‘landscape and visual impact’ of the housing scheme would be, and what the consequences would be for ecology and biodiversity.

What is the inquiry trying to decide, and how are we involved?

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

Sheffield City Council is defending its decision. The council says the refusal was made for valid planning reasons.

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

This means we are putting our own evidence to the inquiry. And we can question the witnesses who appear on behalf of Patrick Properties.

What is the timetable for the rest of the inquiry?

The inquiry hearing was due to resume at 2pm on Monday, April 19th.

It is then due to take evidence on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Then it is due to adjourn until at least another two days of evidence in early June.

The long break is because some witnesses and legal representatives are not available in the final week of April.

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.

What is due to happen this week?

Today our transport witness Anne Robinson will take part in a ‘Round Table’ discussion on the accessibility of the site.

She will give detailed evidence on why the new development would be too remote from everyday amenities. She will say it lacks viable walking or cycling routes, and has poor public transport links.

There will then be further ‘Round Table’ discussions this week on housing need and land supply, and on contamination on the site.

Later this week, the inquiry is due to hear detailed examination and cross examination of the main planning witnesses.

Our planning consultant Andrew Wood is due to give his detailed evidence on Wednesday.

You can follow the inquiry via a video livestream on the Planning Inspectorate YouTube channel. This link will connect you to it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GdI5_pTGyI

We have decided to refrain from detailed opinion or commentary while the proceedings are active.  

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A new township is the wrong solution for the Loxley valley – our case to the planning inquiry

A new township is the wrong solution for the Loxley valley – our case to the planning inquiry

Building new suburbia in the heart of the Loxley valley will create an isolated, car-dependent township, remote from local amenities and damaging to Sheffield’s precious Green Belt countryside.

That’s the message that Friends of the Loxley Valley and CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire will spell out to a planning inquiry starting on Tuesday April 13th.

We’re making our case alongside Sheffield City Council. They are defending their refusal of outline planning permission for up to 300 homes on the old ‘Hepworth’ factories site.

Developers Patrick Properties have appealed against the refusal.

Planning Inspector Martin Whitehead will oversee the inquiry hearing. He must decide whether to allow the appeal.

The inquiry is expected to last for up to ten days. It will take place ‘virtually’, via Microsoft Teams online conferencing.

The inquiry proceedings will also be livestreamed each day. You can access this via the Planning Inspectorate YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQqDetL1R5aRgbNm8PDViNw

Thank you for supporting our ‘Save Loxley Valley’ fighting fund

Friends of the Loxley Valley and CPRE are taking part in the inquiry as a main party. This is thanks to hundreds of financial donations from the local community.

Our ‘GoFundMe’ online crowd funder has now reached over £14,000 thanks to your remarkable generosity.

The money raised means we’ve been able to pay planning and transport experts to prepare a detailed case.

We have also instructed specialist planning barrister Alistair Mills of Landmark Chambers. Alistair will help to present our case, and to cross examine Patrick Properties’ planning witnesses.

He will work alongside our ‘appeal manager’, CPRE staff member Andy Tickle. Andy will attend the inquiry throughout.

Thank you again for the amazing donations that have made all this possible! If you can still afford to donate, or to spread the word to other potential supporters, we would really appreciate it.

We are still a little way short of our £15,000 GoFundMe target. We would like to go a little bit higher than the target if we can. This will help us to cover all our costs.

All donations at this stage will be very gratefully received. Every last fiver will help! Thank you so much!

What is the Friends of the Loxley Valley case?

Friends of the Loxley Valley and CPRE will argue that the heart of the Loxley valley is the wrong place to build a huge new housing estate.

Planning consultant Andrew Wood has prepared our main ‘Proof of Evidence’. He will tell the inquiry that the proposed township would have much greater impact on Green Belt countryside than the old factory sheds.

Andrew will say the development would extend suburban Sheffield to the edge of the Peak District National Park.

He will say this would dominate the valley bottom, and introduce round-the-clock human activity to a peaceful stretch of riverside.

This would break both national and local planning policies by building new housing in an unsustainable location when better sites are available.

CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire transport adviser Anne Robinson has produced a separate ‘Proof of Evidence’ dealing with transport and accessibility.

She will tell the inquiry that local services would be inaccessible to people living in the new township.

She will say that walking, cycling or using public transport to reach schools, shops and other local amenities would be fraught with difficulty.

For example, there would be no direct bus service to Stannington, and Spout Lane is too long, steep and unsafe for most people to walk or cycle up it.

Anne will say that most people would have no realistic alternative to using the private car for all their essential local journeys.

What will Sheffield City Council tell the inquiry?

Sheffield City Council will tell the Planning Inspector that they were correct to refuse planning permission.

Their experts will say the development would breach planning policies, damage the Green Belt, and could cause irreversible biodiversity harm to the “ecological gem” that is the Loxley valley.

You can read the council’s case, plus all the documentation from the appellants Patrick Properties, on the planning inquiry website here: https://avison-young.foleon.com/uk-loxley-inquiry/loxley-inquiry/home/

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