Wednesday, January 5, 2022

News: Appeal turned down for Rotherham greenbelt housing plans


A planning inspector has dismissed an appeal by developers wanting to build over 100 new houses on "irreplaceable" greenspace in Rotherham.

Rothbiz reported last year that the planning board at Rotherham Council voted to refuse the plans for The Pitches - going against a recommendation by its officers.

After consultation, Newett Homes reduced the proposals in scale, resulting in a proposal for 116 dwellings.

The application for the site at Stag was being recommended for approval, so long as developers provided over £1m as part of a legal deal.

The nine acre site on Wickersley Road has previously been used for football, cricket, hockey, tennis and bowls but it has been vacant for over five years.

The hearing for the appeal focused on whether the development would be contrary to Rotherham's Local Plan with regard to the protection of designated greenspace; the effect of the proposed scheme on the provision of protected greenspace; and "whether the proposed scheme makes adequate provision for any existing and additional need for Green Space and recreational facilities arising from the scheme with regard to its quantity, quality and suitable location."

Having visited the site, and heard representations from the applicant, council and the local community, planning inspector, Andrew McCormack, concluded that: "From submissions and my observations, it is clear to me that the site provides a significant visual amenity role for the local community and area. Accordingly, having taken all relevant matters into account, I find the broad amenity function that the site has provided in the past and continues to provide environmentally, physically and visually to the local community to be irreplaceable.

"I find that the site provides significant amenity value to the local community in terms of environmental and physical benefits. Whilst opportunities for its continuing use in this way have been restricted in recent years, the potential and desire of the local community is sufficiently evident to support the case for the site to remain as protected Green Space. The amenity benefits to the local community and its people, as I have heard and seen them, are location specific and cannot be replicated or reproduced elsewhere. As such, this overall amenity value provided through the site as I have set out is considered to be irreplaceable."

The inspector also concluded that there are "no substantive material considerations which overcome the significant harm that would result in the loss of the protected greenspace on the local area and its residents."

During discussions over the plans, a figure of £912,000 was accepted by Sport England, due to go towards a replacement cricket pitch and field, replacement football facilities, a new bowling facility, tennis provision and to enable the Council to commission a new Playing Pitch Strategy. The inquiry showed that the total sum offered in the final Section 106 document was less than what it would cost to reinstate The Pitches site.

The inspector found that the mitigation package does not propose to create any new sports land, such as pitches or courts, and is based solely on qualitative improvements to sports provision elsewhere in the Rotherham area. Concern and doubt was raised about the deliverability, nature and location of the sports mitigation package.

Having heard the evidence, McCormack concluded that: "The proposed mitigation does not include a new football pitch, cricket pitch, tennis courts or a bowling green. There is, therefore, no direct replacement provision of the facilities that are on the appeal site, irrespective of their condition, and which would be permanently lost to the proposed development.

"The appellant stated during the Inquiry that what currently exists on the overgrown appeal site does not equate to useable sporting facilities which were previously used. As such, they do not constitute current provision and do not need to be replaced by something equivalent or better. In my view, the potential for those facilities on the site to be used again, regardless of any reinstatement or maintenance work and cost that may be needed, is sufficient justification to ensure that such provision is at least equivalently compensated for in quantitative and qualitative terms.

"I find that the impact of the proposed scheme on amenity in the local area, its residents and the loss of existing sport and recreation facilities at the appeal site would not be appropriately and adequately addressed and mitigated overall."

Images: Google Maps


Anonymous,  January 5, 2022 at 10:58 AM  

One of the lines in the Inspectors report which caught my eye was that the inspector concluded the money set aside to mitigate the loss would not benefit the local community, noting that money would be given to some facilities outside of the borough.

With the inspector largely agreeing with the findings of the 1990s hearing, hopefully this will be an end to any prospect of houses being built on the site.

It's been clear for a while that the developers have no regard for the local community, hosting consultations in Wickersley to deter neighbours to site from voicing their concerns and the saga with the portacabins etc. Shows that they thought they could simply do as they pleased.

I'm really pleased that the Council got this one right. For once, common sense has prevailed. Now let's hope the community receive the support they need to get the site returned back to sporting use.

Steve G,  January 5, 2022 at 11:01 AM  

And rightly so. This decision sends a strong message to the greedy developers out there that no matter how much money they throw at an application the needs of the community must come before profits for people with inflated ego's. There is a need for the council to play their part in ensuring the protection of green space in the local community and to be fair to RMBC they stood up to the tactics engaged by the developer and landowner. The reality is that the Appellants team were no match for the defence team engaged by the council and more importantly the strength of feeling and determination of the local community who fought a lengthy campaign to preserve the grounds. The friends of the Pitches group are satisfied that a very thorough Inquiry was conducted by Mr Andrew McCormack (not Womack) from the planning Inspectorate prior to dismissing the Appeal against the decision of the Elected Members of the Rotherham Planning Councillors. Hopefully the Landowner will now work with reinstating the site for community use which we hope can be a very profitable venture for him.

Unknown January 5, 2022 at 6:11 PM  

Is it also worth noting the Council is no longer a one party
council so has to be more mindful of their electorate...

Anonymous,  January 5, 2022 at 9:52 PM  

Shame they're not turning more applications down,seen to be throwing houses up all over greenfields and unwanted warehouses like one at Hellaby ,that will stand empty years like one built just few miles up M18 that's been empty years.Just unwanted development to keep construction industry working.

Anonymous,  January 7, 2022 at 10:34 PM  

Misleading title, as it isn't within a green belt and it doesnt have any statutory land designations. Nor is it an accessible sports amenity. It was a private sports facility that hasn't been used for years. It's current use is to serve as a private dog walking area for those houses that back on to it.

Anonymous,  January 7, 2022 at 10:36 PM  

Yet they are building another large warehouse up the M18 in Donny

Anonymous,  January 7, 2022 at 10:40 PM  

What are the suggestions for profitable community use. There is an under used sports facility just across the road, which once had football pitches and tennis courts. If they tried to do the same here, then there would likely be noise and light pollution complaints.

Anonymous,  January 8, 2022 at 11:33 PM  

Its just a matter of time, we need more houses. The scheme will be revised, a few less houses and a few more bird and bat boxes, along with a pond to show biodiversity willing. If they can show the development will be sustainable and carbon positive, then that should be enough boxes ticked. At least the planners are not just accepting the first scheme, hopefully gone are the days of just squeezing as many lego houses as possible on to a plot with no thought of the environment.

Anonymous,  January 10, 2022 at 12:43 PM  

Do we need more houses though,I see literally thousands of empty properties all over country when I work,yet I don't see thousands living in shanty towns cos they don't have homes Just cobblers to put cash in greedy developers pockets.

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