Decision on Grimesthorpe

Planning inspectorate have granted outline planning permission to Redwall Developments for the land between 434 and 652 Grimesthorpe Road, overturning the Council rejection of their planning application.

Shelter for Wildlife

The strip of land along Grimesthorpe Road has been the subject of controversy for a few years. The area of planned development used to contain Wood Hill House but this fell into a state of dereliction many years ago.

The area where the house used to be then became heavily vegetated. Remnants from when the old house was on the site included numerous garden escapes including aquilegia and field pepperwort, mature mulberry trees, ash, blackthorn, rowan and oak trees, patches of native bluebells and lines of privet and hazel. The mature trees that dominated the site were mainly sycamore and ash although there was a lot of hawthorn and elder scrub. Dense areas of bramble and ivy on the site were important for providing food and shelter for wildlife. Bats, owls, foxes and numerous birds were common animals that the local residents enjoyed seing in and around the woodland.

Rare butterfly found

During an invertebrate survey carried out in July 2003 for Sheffield Wildlife Trust, (part of the Green Audit) Holly blue butterfly was seen in the area of proposed development, this is a Local Red Data Book species of nature conservation importance and is in the City Ecology Unit Records (SBRC database).

Redwall clear the land

Redwall Developments cleared the land by bulldozers in the summer of 2005 before applying for planning permission. Large amounts of building rubble and topsoil were then dumped on the land with permission from Redwalls preventing the natural regeneration of the cleared area. This was witnessed by at least 2 local residents.

Sheffield City Council turned down the application and Redwalls appealed against the decision. The public enquiry appeal took place from the 28th November to 1st December 2006.

Redwall claim there is no wildlife interest

Redwall's solicitors argued that the site was a brown field site with no amenity or wildlife interest and that this was the case before clearance also that housing was desperately needed in the area. Two planning officers and three local residents spoke against the development citing its importance as a green field site with local amenity value in visual terms, and its relevance to the adjoining Area of Natural History interest known as Smiths Field or Wood Hill. It was argued that there is already extensive areas of previously developed land within the city and there is already considerable housing currently under construction or planned for within Burngreave.

Reference was made to the problem of fly-tipping but it was local residents who pointed out that this was a Burngreave issue not just a site issue, it was more obvious because it was not being cleared and the problem dramatically escalated after the woodland/vegetation clearance by Redwalls.

After the opening statements, local residents were not given an opportunity to cross examine Redwalls solicitors on the many inaccurate statements that were made regarding the site, in my opinion this led to a biased unfair view of the site and its potential. I could not attend the site visit made by the inspector but I doubt that Redwalls and their solicitors gave a full account of the changes they have made to the area.

Government inspector gives Redwall the go ahead

During the second week in January the decision was sent out that the inspectorate had agreed with Redwalls and has allowed development of the land based on it being previously developed land and the need for more housing in the area. There is a list of conditions previously laid out by the planning dept' stating that, amongst other conditions, details of siting, design and appearance, access and landscaping have to be submitted in full before building work can begin.

The rubbish tipped on the site has been moved by Redwalls away from the road against the trees to the south that border the Area of Natural History Interest/ Smiths Field. Although a tree preservation order was issued on the site after initial clearance most of the trees were already demolished, other trees near the public footpath were cut back after this.

It appears that, regardless of what may lie in our local areas regarding visual amenity and conservation value, once an area has been bulldozed then a developer is free to make applications for development based on the land after demolition and destruction. It is noted in previous Messengers what the builders on site have had to say about local feelings on the area, i.e. It's their land and they will do what they want (Deverlopers anger Grimesthorpe residents September 2005).

There is an Appeals process but this involves costs that I am unable to afford. Redwalls are currently applying for costs from the Council.

The character of our ‘country lane’ and associated open space looks set to deteriorate further. It was noted in the Burngreave Green Audit how lucky we are in the many green, open spaces we have – a third of the area. It seems that unless they are designated as public parks then they are easy pickings for developers to ruin. It's a shame that one of the important habitats we have in abundance in Sheffield – urban commons or previously developed land that has been reclaimed by nature – are at risk. Especially considering the wildlife, conservation and ‘wildness’ these areas contain compared to our nice but sanitised parks that generally don't have unmown grassland, dead wood and dense areas of bramble and ivy.

Ideas of where to go next with this will be much appreciated.

by Jim Bruce

The Council's response to the Inspectorates decision can be found in Redwall get go ahead, in the February 2007 issue.

Sheffield Wildlife Trust's Green Audit can be found in our old website. Number 29 Wood Hill/Smith’s Field & Carwood Close, includes details of the plant, insect and bird life on the site.

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The content on this page was added to the website by Lisa Swift on 2007-02-04 16:07:06.
The content of the page was last modified by Lisa Swift on 2007-02-04 18:09:38.

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