Developers aiming to develop Sheffield woodland claim residents do not use site enough

Protesters at Smithy Wood
Protesters at Smithy Wood

Developers opposed to proposals for a village green to be granted in a ancient woodland claim there is ‘not enough evidence’ to show sufficient use from residents.

Martin Carter, legal representative for St Paul’s Developments, made the comments on the final day of a public inquiry into whether part of Smithy Wood in Chapeltown should be granted village green status.

Landowner St Paul’s Developments is objecting to the application and wants to build a £40 million motorway service station on the site.

He said: “The burden of proof relies on the applicants and they have not provided us with enough evidence to support their claim.”

Mr Carter also said that evidence given to support the application was only from a select few people.

“Only nine witnesses have given evidence statements,” Mr Carter added.

“One of those is not is not classed as part of the Cowley neighbourhood and has not lived in the area for 20 plus years and cannot recall anyone that she came across in the wood.”

Mr Carter went on to say that some witnesses vaguely remember two fires that happened in 1995 and 1996 but many did not and suggested that they couldn’t be regular users of the woods.

He also doubted how cohesive the estate was.

Alexander Greaves, legal representative for Cowley Residents’ Action Group, refuted claims that residents did not frequently use the woods.

He said: “The neighbourhood has cohesiveness and this is shown through the residents’ action group.

“On the use, we have heard many accounts of dog walking, bike rides, den building and children climbing trees.”

Both parties were presenting their closing statements.

The inquiry, which has lasted five days, has been chaired by London barrister, Richard Ground who will make his recommendations in a report which is due to be published in two months.