A STRATEGY was announced this week to earmark 18 sites across Sheffield for housing, including farmland, former playing fields, an old sports ground and other green spaces.
Land in Fulwood, Stannington, Worrall, Oughtibridge, Stocksbridge, Norton, Woodhouse and Crookes is included in a proposed package designed to generate 1,100 new homes and to meet Government housing targets.
The Labour council insists the green belt remains protected but says that if it does not release land it will weaken its case for fending off housebuilders eyeing locations that the authority believes would be inappropriate, including the green belt.
However, as a consultation programme begins, opposition Liberal Democrats are attacking the strategy as “a devastating attack on Sheffield’s green and open spaces”.
Already Sheffield has identified land for up to 22,500 homes over the next ten to 15 years, and about half the homes have planning permission.
Most development is proposed on brownfield, or previously developed, sites but the council says it has to earmark some potential greenfield sites to meet Government requirements in the face of a national housing shortage.
It is looking to offer locations for a variety of styles of housing and says it has come up with a realistic and deliverable list. “We believe all the sites we have put forward are appropriate,” said head of planning development services, Dave Caulfield.
“We can’t meet all our requirements from brownfield sites but it is still over 90%.”
However, any suggestion of building on green open space is likely to prompt controversy. Greenfield sites are invariably more attractive to housebuilders but nearby residents often raise fears about the impact on the environment, roads and schools.
Coun Helen Mirfin–Boukouris, cabinet member for jobs, skills and growth, said: “We are under pressure from the Government to identify enough land for future new homes. We also want to protect as much of Sheffield’s green space as we can. With the pressure on land there are some hard choices to make. This land is not going to be built on overnight, it’s about having a plan of land supply for the future.
“If we do not identify enough land then developers could ask to build in places where we do not want them to – like in the green belt. We don’t want this to happen. We want to try and protect as much of Sheffield’s green space as we can.”
Already a political row has started, with local Lib Dem leader Coun Shaffaq Mohammed predicting “a real backlash from local residents, who are famous for being passionate about protecting their green spaces”.
He said: “Clearly Labour councillors have not learned from when they tried to build on Graves Park last time they were in power. This move represents a devastating attack on Sheffield’s green and open spaces.
“What’s more Labour are planning a measly six week consultation period, which is the least amount of time they can get away with by law. More time should be given for local communities to be able to make themselves heard.
“We understand that extra sites for housing have to be found. However, Labour’s proposals are unfair as the sites they have chosen are clustered in just a few selected areas which could put unbearable strain on local services.”