Thursday, October 23, 2014

News: Construction at Bassingthorpe could start in 2016


Work could start on the 2,400 proposed houses on former greenbelt land known as Bassingthorpe Farm in Rotherham as early as 2016, planning reports show.

As part of the Local Plan core strategy that was recently adopted by the council, the 215 hectare area close to Rotherham town centre has been removed from the greenbelt and designated as a Strategic Allocation and the main location for new housing, employment and retail growth. 2,400 dwellings could be joined by 11 hectares for employment use.

As part of the consultation on the sites and policies document - which sets out the detailed sites and development management policies to deliver growth over the next 15 years, the issue of Bassingthorpe and the building on the greenbelt land is set to be a hot topic.

Rotherham Council has been leading on the proposals for a number of years, and is working collaboratively with major landowner, Fitzwilliam (Wentworth) Estates, on how to bring forward the project to create "sustainable communities on the edge of Rotherham Urban Area within a green infrastructure that enables connectivity and integration of new development with existing communities." It is also set to provide strong and convenient connections to services and be of "a high quality design that responds sensitively and positively to the historic and natural landscape, the built form and topography."

With Bassingthorpe "promoted" from a "broad location for growth" to a "strategic allocation" in the core strategy, the site can come forward before other sites in the borough.

Work will now be underway on a masterplan for the development that will be finalised before an outline planning application is submitted for the site. Planners have assumed a period of 33 months from the site being removed from the greenbelt to the start of construction. One single overarching master developer could be appointed to build out the site in a phased manner.

The partners are unlikely to wait until the sites and polices document has been through the public consultation and formal adoption to begin on more detailed plans given that the government's planning inspector was satisfied that the detailed evidence supporting the future development of Bassingthorpe Farm was sufficient that the site could be formalised as a strategic allocation. Experts at Signet Planning have been working on evidence, analysis and illustrative concept masterplans.

The council had hoped to give priority to bringing forward brownfield land for development before any greenfield sites but the Government's inspector would not allow it as it did not conform to national planning guidelines. The Rotherham strategy admits: "While the release of previously developed or brownfield sites is to be encouraged, the number of remaining suitable brownfield sites is limited and the number of houses that can be accommodated on them fall far short of those needed to deliver the required housing.

"Current economic conditions and constraints on many of the remaining previously developed sites means that development is not economically viable, at least in the short term. The early release of greenfield sites is therefore inevitable, even though there may be some brownfield sites remaining."

With the potential for around 100 new houses to be built each year, the Bassingthorpe development will go a long way to address the current housing shortfall in the borough. There are other potential benefits to the council of large scale housebuilding on the site. Around 57 hectares (26%) of the site is under Rotherham Council's ownership with potential income to be generated from plot sales, the new homes bonus, section 106 agreements, the proposed Community Infrastructure Levy and future council tax from 2,400 new houses.

However, one major hurdle to overcome is the viability of the whole development, with consultants, DTZ, estimating that the infrastructure needed to bring forward houses, associated retail and employment uses would cost over £50m. This includes £10m for strategic infrastructure, £5m for drainage, £4m for improving the road infrastructure, £8m for education including a new primary school, £2m for a new doctor's surgery and £1.6m for a new fire station. The costs to develop the whole project have been estimated at £365m.

The state of the housing market combined with current obligations through the planning process would make the scheme unviable and proposals such as reducing the amounts of any levies are being considered. A mechanism could also be introduced to ensure deferment or phasing of financial contributions to help reduce initial upfront costs.

Potential funding sources are also being sought that would make the development more viable such as the use of council borrowing, funding via the Homes & Communities Agency or the Sheffield City Region's Infrastructure Fund.

Images: RMBC / Signet Planning


Anonymous,  October 24, 2014 at 10:05 AM  

When will the inept council realise that NOBODY wants this to go ahead, I haven't spoken to single person who thinks this is a good idea. Hopefully it will be scrapped when they all get voted out next year.

Keith Roden,  October 24, 2014 at 10:44 PM  

The houses will be built regardless of the high level of opposition by local people. The co called "Consultation Process" is a pretence designed to fool people into thinking they have a say in the matter and has already been shown to be a farce because previous objections to building on Bassingthorpe have been ignored by Rotherham Council and the Government Minister has then back-heeled the councils proposal to build on brownfield sites before touching land in the Green Belt.

Anonymous,  October 25, 2014 at 12:25 PM  

Get this existing Council voted out next election looks like its the only language they're gonna understand.

Anonymous,  August 25, 2015 at 5:08 AM  

We fought so hard to get this development stopped. Saddened at the thought of our heritage going under concrete and tarmac to accommodate anyone who decides they would like to live in England, for whatever reason.

Anonymous,  September 29, 2015 at 3:17 PM  

The people of Greasborough do not want there village destroyed, why is the council hell bent on destroying a beautiful area. There is plenty of brown belts to build on. Disgusting, there is already few houses up for sale because of the council plans to destroy our green belts.

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