A DERELICT country club that has blighted Sheffield’s green belt for eight years could soon be demolished to make way for an eco-friendly family home.
Local businessman Mike Haver, his wife Meg and Meg’s mum, Dorothy, are aiming to replace the former Pinegrove Country Club at Stannington, which was closed in 2004 and was badly damaged by fire soon afterwards, with accommodation for the family.
They are seeking approval for a five-bedroom house, which contrasts with an application from a developer for 58 homes that was rejected by the council – and the Government after an appeal – because of the impact on such a sensitive location.
Mr Haver, who runs a building maintenance business, said: “We really like the Loxley Valley because of its proximity to the Peak District and green belt. We have been looking for a suitable plan for about five years.
“Several plans have come and gone because they are not suitable or outside our budget, but this one seems to tick all the boxes.”
He has already bought the land, off Myers Grove Lane, and, if granted planning permission, intends to do much of the work himself once the structure has been made watertight.
The property would allow him, Meg and Dorothy to live in the property, financed by the sale of their two current houses, one in Endcliffe, the other in Ecclesall, and savings.
It would include a swimming pool for all the family and a pottery studio for Dorothy. All three are keen gardeners and they intend to grow most of their own food. The house is designed to sit within a walled enclosure to keep rabbits away from vegetables and foxes away from chickens.
Rainwater would be used for the swimming pool, garden irrigation, washing machines and toilets and the home would have ‘green’ insulation and be heated by either solar power or a log-burning boiler, with logs from surrounding woodland.
“We have got a good architect and are getting expert advice on energy conservation and woodland management,” said Mike.
With bats possibly roosting in the old sports hall, a bat survey is being carried out, and demolition may have to wait until after the breeding season. Mike is in discussions with Natural England.
More substantial obstacles are in the shape of an old landfill site on which the country club was built, and the condition of a building ravaged by three or four fires and stripped by metal thieves. “The whole building is unsafe,” said Mike
Yet the 42-year-old is undaunted, preparing to piledrive into the land to ensure stability, to put his own skills into use during construction and to live with Meg in temporary accommodation until the job is completed. “We like a challenge,” he said.
The application, based on designs by Sheffield-based Burnell Briercliffe Architects, is for a building within the footprint of the old club and one that is lower in height. The plans will be studied by the council to ensure they fit in with the green belt.
Partner Alan Burnell said they were in line with local and national guidelines. “The development will provide a long-desired solution to the eyesore that the club currently presents,” he is telling the council. “It will appear as a modern interpretation of a traditional family house, within a secure enclosure.”
Although waiting to scrutinise the details, Loxley Valley Protection Society, a vociferous protector of the green belt, is indicating its broad approval, especially when contrasting the proposed development with the current derelict and contaminated site.
Lynette Jackson, who chairs the group, said: “They are not proposing to develop the whole area down to the river like the previous application. On balance, the impact on the green belt would be improved.”
Bradfield Parish Council is raising no objections.