Delay on decision for controversial service station by ancient Sheffield woodland

17 April 2014...Protestors gather at Smithy Wood off Junc 35 of the M1 near Sheffield to show their opposition to a proposed motorway service area at the site. Picture Scott Merrylees SM1002/87d

17 April 2014...Protestors gather at Smithy Wood off Junc 35 of the M1 near Sheffield to show their opposition to a proposed motorway service area at the site. Picture Scott Merrylees SM1002/87d

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The date when hugely controversial plans for a service station at ancient woodland will be decided has been delayed.

Proposals for the Extra motorway service station at junction 35 of the M1, beside Smithy Woods in Chapeltown, have been objected to by thousands of people.

It was expected the plans would be considered shortly, but now a planning committee will be in January 2016.

Extra said the delay was as Sheffield Council had asked it to undertake ‘a number of other technical studies’ which would be completed soon and to work with the community further. A workshop to ‘involve’ residents takes place next week.

A spokesman added: “We want to make sure this work is accurate and as comprehensive as possible so people have all the facts. We did not want to organise events in the school holidays when many local people will be away so have waited until September.”

The plans sparked a campaign from residents who fear irreplaceable wildlife habitats will be lost forever and a precedent set if they are approved.

Extra has said there is a ‘clear need’ for the £40m service station, it will create 700 jobs and it is developing a package of ‘health and leisure benefits’ for Sheffield.

Oliver Newham, of the Woodland Trust, said: “This further delay is frustrating because the decision is clear cut and should be made quickly – while ancient woodland is threatened, this proposal is unacceptable. “No amount of negotiation or compensation will persuade us to withdraw our objection and Chapeltown Residents Action Group, along with many others, feel the same.”

Sheffield Council said the applicant wanted to complete further consultation on ‘mitigation measures.’

A spokesman added: “The council has agreed to wait for this, as it is only reasonable to let the applicant try and address public concerns.”

Separately, a decision on a public inquiry into whether the wood should be made into a village green is due next month.