New houses threaten Wharncliffe Woods

8th Sep 2010

We're urging Sheffield City Council to reject plans for over 400 new “catalogue” houses at Deepcar, near Stocksbridge – right next door to valuable local woods and wildlife habitats. Wharncliffe Woods is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and includes an area of heath and woodland which is important as a habitat for wildlife, including the nightjar.

The site is in within the Upper Don Valley, which has been identified as part of the Green Network in Sheffield Council’s own plans. Local people and visitors value the area for walking and recreation. What’s more, nightjars nest here. Nightjars are a rare and protected species, and research has shown that they are disturbed by the presence of urban development.  Hundreds of new houses will have a very bad impact on their habitat and these valuable woodlands.

We also have serious concerns about the design of the new houses. We think the houses look as though they’ve been picked from a catalogue! Design types such as “Oxbridge, Hanbury and Kingsbury” are found all over the country, and reflect a worrying homogenisation of housing styles. They don’t include local materials and certainly don’t reflect the character of the area. 

We are also criticizing the lack of sustainable design in the new houses. From  our assessment, there’s no commitment from the developers to include environmentally sustainable design or renewable energy features such as solar panels, passive heating and cooling. These new houses should be altogether greener.

The proposed site is a disused sewage works and former factory. This may be a brownfield site, but that doesn’t mean that we should settle for bad design.