Hepworth site

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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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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‘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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