Sheffield City Council

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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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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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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A chance to have your say on the future of our Loxley valley Green Belt countryside

A chance to have your say on the future of our Loxley valley Green Belt countryside

Sheffield City Council is asking for our views on the future of our Green Belt countryside in the Loxley valley.

The council has published an ‘Issues and Options’ paper that will guide Sheffield’s approach to building the new houses it needs to provide homes for an expanding population.

Publishing the paper is the first step in a lengthy process to draw up the new Sheffield ‘Local Plan’.

The ‘Local Plan’ will be the blueprint for how the city will be developed over the next 15 years.

The Issues and Options paper sets out three stark choices for building in our Green Belt countryside. The council is now inviting your views on which of the options you prefer, and on all other aspects of the draft plan.

As we fight unwelcome plans for a 300-home township in the heart of the Loxley valley, we think it is vital that local people make their views known.

We are urging all Friends of the Loxley Valley members and supporters to have their say!

Three choices for building houses in the Green Belt

The three broad Green Belt choices facing the city are as follows:

  • Option A – almost no new houses in the Green Belt
  • Option B: 5,000 new houses in the Green Belt (which would be about an eighth of the new houses needed)
  • Option C – 10,000 new houses in the Green Belt (a quarter of the number required up to 2038).

The council acknowledges that a key message from the last consultation in 2015 was that people want countryside and Green Belt protected.

Friends of the Loxley Valley would certainly agree with that verdict. We will be studying the options in detail and making our views known as part of the consultation period.

How to have your say

The consultation period runs from Tuesday 1st September 2020 to Tuesday 13th October 2020.

The ‘Issues and Options’ paper can be read or downloaded from the Sheffield City Council website.

You can have your say by filling in an online questionnaire on the council website.

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