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Inspector sides with Sheffield Council to block green belt development

Sheffield City Council has won a case against Patrick Properties, who wanted to develop the former Loxley Works in the Green Belt for 300 dwellings.

The original application was submitted by the developer in April 2020, and was denied by the Council’s planning committee, who said it would harm the Green Belt and threaten wildlife and biodiversity.

The developer appealed against the decision under a formal planning inquiry, but the planning inspector agreed with the Council that the development would case substantial harm to the openness of the Green Belt and have an adverse impact on the character and appearance of the site, due to urbanisation and increased activity levels.

The planning inspector also agreed that there was insufficient evidence presented by the developer to show that the proposals would not result in harm to the ecology and biodiversity of the site, and that the site was not a sustainable location, being remote from facilities and services.

The case is one of the biggest planning inquiries the city has ever been involved in, with the original planning application receiving more than 1,000 objections from members of the public and local organisations.

Cllr Julie Grocutt, deputy leader at Sheffield City Council, said: ‘This is a very significant decision for such an important Green Belt site and one of the biggest planning inquiries we have ever seen in Sheffield. For many reasons we declined the original planning application, which had more than 1,000 objections, and we are pleased that the planning inspector has recognised this and agrees with our decision.

‘The site is not only an unsustainable location for housing, but a development of this kind would have threatened many protected species and habitats, thankfully they are now protected and can continue to thrive. This result is testament to the tireless efforts and hard work of our planning and ecology officers, along with our partners at the CPRE, Friends of Loxley Valley, and South Yorkshire Bat Group. It is a fine example of organisations working together for the benefit of the city, our natural environment and our shared ambitions for sustainability and conservation.

‘We recently supported the declaration of a nature emergency in Sheffield, and this case demonstrates our commitment to upholding our responsibilities to reverse the decline we are seeing – it is a hugely important step towards not only protecting but enhancing and nurturing our natural species and habitats and I hope that this sends a message about our requirements for future planning applications.’

The Council’s planning service, ecology team and landscape team worked with countryside charity CPRE, Friends of Loxley Valley, and the South Yorkshire Bat Group to present the case against the development.

Andy Tickle, head of campaigns at CPRE PDSY, said: ‘We believe the old factory site can be redeveloped 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.’

In related news, the government has formed a new expert group from across the housing sector to advise on the delivery of the social housing white paper.

Photo supplied by Sheffield City Council

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