‘The way is clear in Sheffield’ for green belt homes

Nick Clegg MP and Coun David Baker with Jan Symington, Diane Parker and Anne Holmes from the Loxley Valley Protection Society at the old Loxley College site.
Nick Clegg MP and Coun David Baker with Jan Symington, Diane Parker and Anne Holmes from the Loxley Valley Protection Society at the old Loxley College site.

HOUSEBUILDERS have been given the go-ahead to start the construction of an estate on the derelict site of the former Loxley College - but the matter will still need to be discussed further by councillors to determine the number of affordable homes provided in the development.

Ben Bailey Homes and Sheffield College already had council approval in principle for a residential development off Wood Lane, and councillors were advised on Tuesday to approve the details of 69 detached and semi-detached houses.

Coun Peter Rippon, chair of the West and North Planning Committee, said the path is clear for building to start, but added: “It will be coming back to the next committee meeting about the affordable housing element,

“We’re trying to get a reasonable number of affordable houses in the development. What we’ve asked for and what they are offering are two different numbers.

“Officers are working with developers to come to a reasonable compromise.”

Coun Rippon continued: “Hopefully they’re going to demolish the buildings now and start developing the site, because it is an eyesore at the moment. The way is clear for them to start.”

The committee was 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.

Campaigners including Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg, local councillor David Baker and the Loxley Valley Protection Society called for the old college to be demolished ‘without delay’.

In a report to the committee, planning officers said: “The applicant has agreed to make a number of changes to the scheme that has significantly lifted the design quality of the development.

“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 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. An issue was also raised around the implications for traffic, especially around Malin Bridge.

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.”

He said the project was ‘as sympathetic as possible’ to the area.