Could Virtual Planning Meeting Have Scuppered Don Valley Railway’s Aspirations?

 

Local Councillors, who support Don Valley Railway, may have inadvertently made a decision that could threaten all aspirations to put Stocksbridge back on the rail map.

 

Bloor Homes Application for 428 Homes at Deepcar on the old brickworks site was approved today at Sheffield City Council’s first ever virtual planning committee meeting.

 

In the face of opposition Bloor Homes removed 4 homes from their plans, to permit station access at Deepcar from Station Road, to enable bus access to the site to be created. However this was agreed only for five years.

 

Chris Bell, Chair of Don Valley Railway, detailed this in objections to the site, however, despite requesting to be able to speak to the committee meeting, this was not offered by the Planning Officer who stated that only one person was allowed to speak to the hearing for the application and one against.

 

At the committee only one person spoke – representing Bloor Homes. The Committee Clerk stated that no one else came forward to speak to the meeting. This is untrue as Don Valley Railway representatives did request this.

 

Don Valley Railway are seriously concerned that the lack of public comment available on Sheffield City Council’s virtual planning committee has created a situation where lack of information has allowed local councillors to allow an application that scuppers something they support!

 

Listening to the proceedings, the issue of the duration of Bloors offer to protect the station site was not discussed.

 

“This would certainly have been raised if I had a chance to speak” Mr Bell said, “We are awaiting confirmation whether the Restoring Your Railway Fund Bid to return passenger trains to the Upper Don Valley has been successful, but if it is not, I doubt that the planning permission will prevent houses being built blocking off the access route to the preferred station site ahead of another attempt to reopen the line.”

 

Network Rail’s recommendation to preserve an area suitable to meet station needs upto 2033, were not considered also.

 

The Department for Transport have told our local MP that the Restoring Your Railway Fund is still going ahead, how with the uncertainty that Coronovirus brings if there is a change of mind by the DfT it could be that trains never return to Stocksbridge.

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