Moves towards redeveloping two industrial sites in Sheffield’s green belt emerged this week.
The first steps are being taken with a view to replacing former ceramic factories operated by the Dyson Group off Baslow Road, Totley, and Stopes Road, Stannington.
Regeneration specialists working with the company said that a number of options were being considered, including housing, and these will be discussed at public consultation events.
Because the sites have already been developed, some form of replacement can be accepted in principle under green belt rules, but any scheme will be scrutinised by local communities, environmentalists, the council and the Peak District authority because of the sensitive locations, in countryside and bordering the Peak District.
In particular, developers will have to satisfy concerns over scale, design and sustainability, including transport links, so that any buildings are not totally isolated from existing communities.
It could prove a test over the balance between removing industrial dereliction and creating homes - which the Government is pressing for - or some other form of development, against protecting the environment.
Nick Whittingham, land director at St. Modwen Properties, said the company had been working with Dyson Group as its promotional partner for the preparation and ultimate disposal of some of its surplus land assets across Yorkshire, the Midlands and Staffordshire, including the disused ceramic factories in Sheffield.
“We are now considering the most appropriate use for these unsightly brownfield sites, which includes a number of different options such as residential development.
“The public consultation events are an opportunity for local residents to outline their views on how the site should be best developed. The comments of all local residents are important to us and we look forward to hearing the public’s feedback and ideas regarding these sites.”
Already residents in Totley have been campaigning to protect the countryside from urban sprawl, notably securing the removal of street lights along Baslow Road to the relocated bus terminus at Gillfield Wood.
Sally Goldsmith, of SPACE, Sheffield and Peak Against City Encroachment, and a member of Friends of Gillfield Wood, said it was “early days” in assessing the future of the Baslow Road site, but there were likely to be concerns.
“I think there is probably a feeling this might be the thin end of the wedge. If there is housing, there could be a threat to building further out of Totley and across the fields towards Totley Hall and the woods, which is green belt land.”
The council was under pressure from the Government to release land for housing, she said.
Already Bradfield Parish Council has been given a presentation about the Stopes Road site, although “they didn’t go into great detail”, said chairman Stuart Cole.
The council will get involved in the consultation procedure and respond to any application.
“Clearly it has to be in keeping with the area it is in. It’s a very difficult decision to make as to what is best for the area. It’s an old industrial site and if you are not careful, it will deteriorate. But until we see what’s on offer we can’t really comment.”
Public consultation over Stannington is at the Lomas hall, Church Street, next Thursday (July 4) between 4.30pm and 7.30pm, and over Totley at All Saints Church, Totley Hall Lane, on Thursday, July 11 between 4.30pm and 7.30pm.