Green belt homes plan on verge of approval in Sheffield

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HOUSEBUILDERS could be given the go-ahead next week to start construction of an estate on the derelict site of the former Loxley College, amid pressure for the “dangerous eyesore” to be demolished as soon as possible.

Already Ben Bailey Homes and Sheffield College have council approval in principle for a residential development off Wood Lane. Councillors will be advised on Tuesday to approve the details of 69 detached and semi-detached houses.

Planning officers say: “The applicant has agreed to make a number of changes to the scheme that has significantly lifted the design quality of the development.”

They add: “It is accepted that the proposed house types are not innovative or are of any practical architectural merit. However, the houses generally have well proportioned elevations … and reflect the character of the surrounding area.”

The site has been earmarked for housing since Sheffield College relocated from Loxley to Hillsborough in 2005, but the green belt location has proved sensitive.

Residents and environmental groups have raised concerns about the impact of the proposed development on views across the valley, although planners believe the openness of the green belt will be improved as a result of buildings moving closer to Wood Lane.

Another key issue is the implications for traffic, especially on the one-way system around Malin Bridge.

But councillors are being advised by their officers that there are no major obstacles subject to the developers meeting conditions.

They were asked by the developers for permission to drop a proposed condition that affordable houses be part of the scheme because it would make it unviable - but, on the advice of the District Valuer, the council is insisting on 14 affordable homes.

Deputy Prime Minister and Hallam MP Nick Clegg is backing local councillor David Baker and Loxley Valley Protection Society in calling for the old college to be demolished “without delay” because it is a “dangerous eyesore”.

Mr Clegg said: “Apart from spoiling the views across the Loxley Valley, the site is a magnet for attracting unwanted anti-social behaviour to the area.”

Jason Pepper, Sheffield College’s executive director of finances and resources, said: “We are keen to see progress with our Loxley College site, in particular the demolition and clearance of the old building. However, this cannot happen until residential planning consent has been granted in full for the site. The college still owns the land, and our planning application is still under consideration.”

He said the project was “as sympathetic as possible” to the area.