Friends of the Loxley Valley

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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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:

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:

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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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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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