Objecting again to Dyson site development

13th Jan 2017

We are objecting to the application for 62 dwellings at Griffs Fireclay Works near Stopes Road in Sheffield. We objected to the previous proposal for 88 houses because although there is clearly a need for the site to be either restored or redeveloped, a substantial housing development standing in open countryside, separately from the built-up area of Stannington, in the Green Belt, is an inappropriate outcome for the site.

This is because:

  • A housing development is very different, functionally, from the previous use of the site, especially in terms of the travel patterns and amenity needs of the prospective new residents, who would be living remotely from the facilities of Stannington and would tend to be car-dependent
  • A large housing development in this location amounts to a new hamlet in the countryside, and the merits of that new settlement can only meaningfully be determined through the Local Plan process, with its associated Green Belt review
  • Allowing housing of this scale outside the built-up area establishes a worrying precedent for similar incursions elsewhere, and pressure for further development between the current edge of Stannington and the application site
  • The appropriate re-use of such a prominent, well-known site must be done in full collaboration with nearby communities, must directly address their needs and aspirations for the area, and must be of exemplary and innovative design.

The slight reduction in the number of dwellings does nothing to mitigate our previous objection.

In considering the previous application, Sheffield City Council accepted an argument made by the applicant, that the brownfield status of the site removed the need for the applicant to demonstrate very special circumstances for developing in the Green Belt. In our view this was an incorrect interpretation of NPPF.

NPPF may allow for ‘limited infilling or the partial redevelopment of previously developed sites (brownfield land) which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt’. But we believe the Council interpreted this wrongly because:

  • The impact on the openness of the Green Belt is not limited to the visual impact of the site. It is abundantly clear that the change of use of the site to residential has a dramatic functional effect on the openness of the Green Belt
  • The former factory pre-dates the Green Belt designation, which washed over it, and therefore the previous purpose of the site is not relevant.

In other words, the development will bring about a change in the characteristics of the site and its immediate surroundings, from one that is essentially open countryside but contains a former factory, to one that includes new, open-market housing typical of volume housebuilders.

Consequently, in our view, the need to demonstrate very special circumstances for inappropriate development in the Green Belt does apply, and this new application provides the Council with an opportunity to revise their previous interpretation.

Whilst we did not agree that a contribution of £1.8m to affordable housing in the area made the development acceptable, we strongly supported the point that provision of affordable housing is a high priority for Sheffield, and that no development should go ahead without an appropriate level of affordable contribution.

We therefore take a dim view of the new proposed contribution of £840,000, because the proposed contribution is 47% of the previous one, despite the number of new dwellings being 70% of the previous one.

It is our view that a volume housebuilder solution is not appropriate to this sensitive location, and that the brownfield status of the site does not override the need for the proposal to demonstrate very special circumstances for developing in the Green Belt.