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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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Sheffield city councillors vote to protect Loxley valley trees

Sheffield city councillors vote to protect Loxley valley trees

Sheffield city councillors have voted unanimously to protect trees growing on the former Hepworth factory site in the Loxley valley.

The council’s Planning Committee confirmed a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) covering a half-mile stretch of the valley bottom.

The TPO will also protect historic trees growing alongside Storrs Bridge Lane. This is the road that drops down to the old refractory works from Loxley Road.

Many of the trees in the valley bottom have grown alongside the abandoned old factory buildings.

The buildings have mainly stood empty since production of refractory bricks ended in the 1990s.

The city council recently refused planning permission for a township of up to 300 homes on the site.

But Patrick Properties Strategic Land, who own the site, have appealed against the decision.

Their appeal will be heard at a planning inquiry in April that is expected to last ten days.

Why did the council decide to issue the TPO?

Council officer Jack Foxall presented a report to today’s Planning Committee setting out why the TPO was necessary.

He said the trees were of significant local amenity value and suitable for protection.

And he said they were now under possible threat from potential future development.

His report said protection of the trees would “benefit the visual amenity of the local environment”.

Mr Foxall told the committee that Patrick Properties had objected to the TPO, but they had missed the closing date for representations.

Nonetheless, the council had considered the objection and had concluded the TPO was “fully justified”.

Councillors voted unanimously to accept the officer’s report and to confirm the TPO.

It applies to trees growing alongside the River Loxley through the factories, on the banks of Loxley Old Wheel dam and head goyt, on Storrs Bridge Lane, and near to some of the old buildings.

How will the future of the old factories be decided?  

As we said above, Patrick Properties are appealing against the city council’s refusal of planning permission.

They will now present their evidence to a government Planning Inspector, who will decide whether to approve the appeal.

He will hold a hearing in April that is expected to last ten days.

Sheffield City Council will contest the appeal. Friends of the Loxley Valley are also taking part in the inquiry alongside campaign partners CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire.

This means we will present our own evidence, and can question the evidence submitted by the developers.

But it also means we need to pay for planning experts and professional help to prepare our case and to present it effectively.

Will you help us to build our fighting fund?

We and our CPRE partners have launched a Save Loxley Valley fighting fund to raise the money we need to fight the appeal.

We are hoping to raise at least £15,000. We have set up a crowdfunding link for donations.

We know that this is a really difficult time for everyone in our community, but please donate to the fighting fund if you can afford it. Every donation WILL help us to make our case.

 

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Friends of the Loxley Valley launch ‘virtual’ leaflet drive to publicise fighting fund

Friends of the Loxley Valley launch ‘virtual’ leaflet drive to publicise fighting fund

Friends of the Loxley Valley have launched a ‘virtual’ leaflet drive to publicise our ‘Save Loxley valley’ fighting fund appeal.

As we write this, the Covid emergency is at its height. The Government’s chief medical officer has urged us to think very carefully every time we leave the house.

So we have shelved plans to ask our members to deliver thousands of leaflets around our community.

Instead we are making our latest campaign leaflet available for download on this website.

And we are asking everyone who supports us to help to spread the word.

How you can help us

We won’t repeat everything we’ve said in the leaflet. It will speak for itself, we hope.

Our aim is to help everyone locally to understand the challenge we face at the planning inquiry in April. And why we need to raise thousands of pounds to make our case!

Like our previous leaflets, it’s double sided. The first side doubles up as a poster for noticeboards and everyone’s windows. The second side updates things in more detail.

Please download it. Share it on social media. Email it to your personal contacts. Tell your family, friends and neighbours about it. Print a copy and post it in your window. Put a copy on your local noticeboard if we haven’t got there yet ourselves.

If you can think of other ideas, so much the better! We need to do all we can to spread the word so that supporters who can afford it can chip in to the fighting fund.

The Covid challenge

Patrick Properties submitted their planning application to build a new township on the old Hepworth site after the Covid crisis had begun.

Since then, we haven’t been able to hold a meeting to let people in the community talk to each other.

We haven’t been able to sit down in a room together to plan our campaign.

And we haven’t been able to go to the offices of our councillors and MPs to discuss our concerns.

We were not able to go to the Town Hall for the usual planning meeting and to lobby for support.

Now we face a ‘virtual’ planning inquiry in April, and our ability to communicate with everyone is constrained.

But with your help we hope we can continue to spread the message. The support has been humbling and amazing so far. Thank you!

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‘Why have Sheffield City Council sent me a Loxley valley planning letter?’

‘Why have Sheffield City Council sent me a Loxley valley planning letter?’

‘Why did Sheffield City Council sent me a Loxley valley planning letter just before Christmas?’

It’s a good question, and one that many people around the Loxley valley will have been asking as this official letter arrived with the Christmas cards at the end of last year.

So we’ve posted this web page to try to explain, and to provide some guidance on how you might want to respond.

Patrick Properties have appealed against the council’s refusal of planning permission

Sheffield City Council refused planning permission for a township of up to 300 homes on the old ‘Hepworth’ brickworks site in the Loxley valley.

The developers, Patrick Properties Strategic Land, are appealing against that decision.

They hope to persuade a Planning Inspector that the council got it wrong, and that the decision should be overturned.

They will present their case to a public planning inquiry starting on Monday, April 12th. It is likely to last for ten days.

The council will fight the appeal. They will present their own evidence, arguing they applied planning policies correctly. They want the refusal to stand.

Friends of the Loxley Valley intend to support the council. We hope to present our own evidence too. We think a huge unsustainable housing scheme would be disastrous for the Loxley valley.

So, back to the question: ‘Why have I got this letter?’

You will have received the letter if you made your views known to the council before the original planning decision.

Over 900 local people and organisations objected to the planning application and wrote to the Sheffield planners to air their concerns.

The council has written to you now so that YOUR views can be made known to the planning inquiry if you want this to happen.

You can do this in two ways.

Firstly, if you are happy with your original objection, you do not need to do anything. The council will pass your objection on to the Planning Inspector. He will read it, and he will take it into account with all the other evidence.

Can I make additional points to the Planning Inspector?

Yes. If you want to add to your original objection, you can do that too. This is the second way of making your views known.

We have drafted a guidance note to explain how you can do that, and how to make sure your views are taken into account.

But you must now act quickly! The deadline for representations is Wednesday, January 20th.

You may also want to read the detailed Statement of Case that forms the basis of the appeal by Patrick Properties. We think many of their arguments are weak, and we intend to challenge them at the inquiry.

You can download both documents here:

Can I make my views known if I didn’t object to the original planning application?

Yes! Everybody has the democratic right to make their views known to the Planning Inspector.

It is not too late to set out your concerns. A huge housing development would affect all our lives locally, for example through the impact on local roads and services.

If you are worried about this, you have the right to make your case heard.

But if you do write, try to set down evidence to support your fears. For example, if you feel Loxley Road is already carrying too much traffic, set out your experiences and concerns.

Please see our guidance link in the previous section of this post.

Please help us by donating to our Fighting Fund now

Friends of the Loxley Valley is run entirely by community volunteers. We’re happy to provide the guidance and information on this website free of charge.

But we will need expert professional help so that we can present strong evidence at the planning inquiry.

We need to raise thousands of pounds so that we can pay for professional planning experts. They will help us to prepare and present our case.

The more we can raise; the stronger we hope our case will be. And the more we raise, the more professional expertise and representation we can secure.

We and our campaign partners CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire have set up a fighting fund appeal to raise the money.

Thank you! We know how hard everyone’s finances are pushed at the moment. But every donation, however small, will really help us on our way!

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Friends of the Loxley Valley launch planning appeal fighting fund

Friends of the Loxley Valley launch planning appeal fighting fund

Friends of the Loxley Valley have launched a fundraising drive to fight plans for the Loxley valley township.

Our ‘Save Loxley valley’ fighting fund is being run jointly with our campaign partners CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire.

We are appealing for donations to help us ensure local concerns are voiced effectively at a planning inquiry hearing later this year.

If you’d like to donate, you can give money NOW using the online site GoFundMe:

Why do we need the money?

The fighting fund will help us to prepare for a public planning inquiry later this year.

Developers Patrick Properties have appealed against Sheffield City Council’s refusal of planning permission.

They want to build up to 300 homes on the redundant Hepworth refractory works at the valley’s heart..

A Planning Inspector will hear their case at an inquiry beginning on Monday 12th April.

The hearing is likely to be held online, and will last for an estimated ten days.

Sheffield City Council are fighting the appeal, arguing there were good grounds for refusing planning permission.

We support the council, but we also want the Planning Inspector to be in no doubt about how strongly local people feel.

What will the money pay for?

Your donations will help us to pay for professional planning experts and possibly legal representation to help us to fight our case.

And the more you give, the greater our chances of winning and defending the city’s democratic decision!

We believe that the Loxley valley deserves a better solution than unsustainable mass housing.

Even a small donation will help us on our way. Every single pound donated WILL make a difference and will help us to save the Loxley valley from urban sprawl.

How to donate

This link will take you to the GoFundMe account where you can donate money now 

You can donate using a PayPal account, or by using a debit or credit card.

The fighting fund money is being held in a secure ring-fenced charity bank account by our campaign partners CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire.

If you are a taxpayer, please tick the ‘Gift Aid’ box when you make your donation. This means the charity can claim an extra 25p for every £1 you give.

It won’t cost you any extra, but it will help your money to go further and to work harder!

If you would prefer to donate by cheque, please make your cheque payable to CPRE PDSY. Please write ‘Loxley valley appeal’ on the back of the cheque, and send it to the following address:

CPRE PDSY,
Victoria Hall,
37 Stafford Road.
Sheffield,
S2 2SF.

Thank you so much for your support!

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Sheffield City Council issues clean-up orders to Loxley valley landowners

Sheffield City Council issues clean-up orders to Loxley valley landowners

Sheffield City Council has ordered the owners of the old Hepworth refractory works in the Loxley valley to clear illegally dumped waste and to keep vermin under control.

The council’s Environmental Protection Service has posted ‘Enviro-crime scene’ notices at the factory entrance on Storrs Bridge Lane.

The notices are dated Tuesday, 27th October. They tell the landowners they have 42 days from then to clear the waste.

Then they must then inspect the site once a month to keep it waste-free.

The landowners must also remove materials that could provide ‘harbourage or food’ for rats and mice.

The council served the notices on Patrick Properties, who own the old factories, and on the owners of the adjacent Claremont House.

Claremont House is the semi-derelict detached house that was formerly the social club for factory workers.

The council’s actions follow repeated waste dumping on the sites.

The notices list the following items of waste:

  • Electrical and white goods
  • Wood
  • Metal
  • Construction/demolition waste
  • Glass
  • Food waste
  • General household and commercial waste

The council warns the landowners they could face fines of up to £5,000 if they fail to comply with the notices.

 

Some of the waste that has accumulated on the site in the Loxley valley
Some of the waste that has accumulated on the site in the Loxley valley

The notices that have been served on Patrick Properties in the Loxley valley
The notices that have been served on Patrick Properties in the Loxley valley

The notices that have been served on the Claremont House owners in the Loxley valley
The notices that have been served on the Claremont House owners in the Loxley valley
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Developers to appeal against Loxley valley housing decision

Developers to appeal against Loxley valley housing decision

Developers Patrick Properties have said they intend to appeal against refusal of planning permission for their Loxley valley housing scheme.

The company’s agents, Avison Young, have written to Sheffield City Council giving them formal notification of the appeal process.

They say the appeal is likely to be submitted on Wednesday, 4th November.

Then a formal public planning inquiry is likely to follow in the new year.

The letter to the council estimates the length of the inquiry at ten days.

The appeal follows refusal of planning permission for a township of up to 300 homes on the old Hepworth refractory site, as reported earlier on this website

The planning application attracted widespread opposition, leading to over 900 objections from local people and organisations.

Friends of the Loxley Valley’s reaction

Friends of the Loxley Valley are disappointed to hear of the appeal.

Now we must wait to learn more about the company’s grounds for appeal.

Once we know more, we will work closely with campaign partners including CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire to give voice to local concerns at the appeal hearing.

We and the CPRE will monitor developments closely and will do our best to keep the community informed as things progress.

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Countryside charity welcomes Loxley valley campaign success

Countryside charity welcomes Loxley valley campaign success

The countryside charity CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire has welcomed our campaign victory against plans for a new Loxley valley township.

CPRE PDSY has written an open letter to Friends of the Loxley Valley following the Sheffield City Council decision to refuse planning permission.

The charity’s chief executive Tomo Thompson congratulates Friends of the Loxley valley on a successful  campaign.

His letter says the campaign follows the best traditions of Sheffield’s rural communities making their voices heard.

“Sheffield and its surrounding towns and villages have a long and rich history in standing up for themselves and for what is right,” he says.

“The disgruntled nattering at the bus stop, down the pub, and over the garden fence gains traction until streets, communities, villages, and towns join together and try to endeavour to put right what communities believe to be wrong.

“The success of the Friends of the Loxley Valley campaign is the most recent example of this.”

Friends of the Loxley Valley worked with CPRE SYPD and many other local organisations to object to the proposed new township.

The campaign resulted in over 900 objections from local people and groups, including our councillors and MPs.

Patrick Properties Strategic Land Ltd proposed up to 300 homes on the abandoned refractory works site in the valley bottom.

They bought the old factories two years ago. They have stood empty since Hepworth plc stopped production in the 1990s.

But Sheffield City Council’s Planning Committee has voted unanimously to REFUSE planning permission.

Friends of the Loxley Valley response

Friends of the Loxley Valley have thanked CPRE SYPD for the warm and supportive letter.

We are also extremely grateful for the specialist support they have given us for many years.

We appreciate this expertise comes at a considerable cost for a small charity.

The charity’s letter sets out how local people can support their work.

Thanks to everybody else who’s standing up for the Loxley valley

Friends of the Loxley Valley have been overwhelmed by the passionate support we’ve received in recent months.

Many thousands of people have visited this website and followed our social media channels.

Hundreds upon hundreds of you put pen to paper to voice your concerns to the city council planners.

And your voices were echoed and supported by your elected MPs and councillors.

Also by numerous local organisations who added their expert knowledge. We won’t list everybody here for fear of missing someone out.  You KNOW who you are, and we’re grateful and humbled.

A special shout-out as well to the people who joined us and the Loxley Valley Design Group in speaking to the Planning Committee:

And a shout-out too for our sister organisation, the Rivelin Valley Conservation Group, who’ve stood by us all the way.

Thanks everyone!!

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Sheffield Planning Committee REJECTS Loxley Valley township application

Sheffield Planning Committee REJECTS Loxley Valley township application

Sheffield city councillors have today REJECTED plans for a township of up to 300 homes in the Loxley valley.

The council’s Planning and Highways Committee voted unanimously to refuse permission for redevelopment of the old Hepworth refractory works.

The old factories have stood empty in the Loxley valley bottom since Hepworth plc ended production in the 1990s.

New owners Patrick Properties wanted permission to demolish the factories and replace them with a township of up to 300 homes.

But the 12 councillors at today’s planning meeting voted unanimously to reject the plans.

They backed their officers’ report recommending refusal of outline planning permission.

The officers’ report set out strong reasons for refusal. They said:

  • The proposal would damage the openness of Sheffield’s Green Belt and harm the special character of the Loxley valley;
  • The development would be unsustainable. It had too few on-site services to support it, and existing local services would be inaccessible;
  • Building on a flood plain was not justified by wider sustainability benefits to the local community;
  • There was too little information to judge the impact on biodiversity, landscape, climate change, design quality, pollution and the remediation of derelict land.

Friends of the Loxley Valley welcome the verdict

The decision follows a long campaign by Friends of the Loxley Valley.

We regretted having to fight the application, and would have preferred to work with developers for a consensual solution.

Some of the old factory buildings are derelict and do need attention.

But much of the site has returned to nature, and some of the buildings remain in use.

And the site is in an exceptionally sensitive place, in an area of special character and on the boundary of the Peak District National Park.

We would like to thank everybody who took the time and trouble to object to the planning application.

Objectors included our two local MPs, local councillors, the Peak District National Park Authority, CPRE South Yorkshire, the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, and numerous other local groups.

And around 900 local people also wrote to the council to express their concerns.

What happens now?

The developers may choose to appeal against the decision. They also have the option of going back to the council with a more acceptable proposal.

We hope they will choose to work with local people to do something green, sustainable and outstanding, in keeping with this unique Green Belt site.

But for now, we’re very pleased and relieved. We’re going to raise a glass or two to celebrate, and we hope you do too. Cheers!

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