Fears for ancient woodland as housing plans take shape

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Community representatives fear local views on a proposed large housing development in south west Sheffield are being “swept aside” by the council.

In particular, they are concerned about the impact on ancient woodland and other green space in the redevelopment of the sites of the former Abbeydale Secondary School and the Bannerdale Centre.

Houses are due to be built on the cleared school site and Bannerdale, which is due to be demolished next year.

Carter Knowle and Millhouses Community Group accepts the need for houses, but says, in trying to accommodate developers, the latest proposals threaten historic landscape next to the Bannerdale Centre and green spaces near Spring Wood, exposing the woodland to noise and light pollution, threatening wildlife and making access more difficult.

The council is “extremely unclear” about numbers of houses, said Ted Gunby, who chairs the group. For the Abbeydale site it could be “anywhere between 78 and 132, though they now seem to thinking again about that site. We also know nothing about the type of houses that will be built except that their design should be sensitive to the local streets.

“The main concern at the moment is the new proposal to extend over the historic landscape - the council’s term - to the north of Spring Wood. People around here are terribly upset about that idea, not least because it overturns everything the council have said over 18 months of what we thought were open and honest consultations.”

There is the potential for an imaginative development on a “fantastic” site, said Mr Gunby. “Architects we know suggest there could be something really exciting. We are up for that type of development, but not a sprawl on to the best bits of land. This green space is part of Sheffield’s heritage. The council seemed to be going along sensible lines, then they sweep aside the consultations.”

The council says consultation helped to shape the initial concepts and the planning and design brief, which also went for consultation.

A spokesperson said: “In order to reflect the difficult ground conditions around the Bannerdale site, public views were sought on development along an edge of the park that had not previously been considered. Strong views were expressed by many local people that this was not desirable.

“The council has listened to, and considered, the views of the local community and, together with the results from further ground investigations, has been able to redesign the proposals to avoid this sensitive area. The next steps will involve the submission of the outline planning application. There will be further opportunity for the community to give their views through the statutory planning consultation.”

Council moving goalposts - Clegg

Deputy Prime Minister and Hallam MP Nick Clegg said: “It’s deeply frustrating that the Labour council have moved the goalposts and local residents have every right to protest.”

He urged the authority to listen to local opinion. “Sheffield’s green and leafy spaces are a real asset. We have to do everything possible to ensure that they remain protected and accessible for everyone to enjoy.”