Finally, planning permission for the restoration of the Landfill site - but in some ways it’s still all to play for!
At the September 2016 meeting of the City Council’s Planning Board Councillors finally approved the revised restoration plan for the closed Landfill site. While we didn’t get all we wanted, at least there is now a way forward.
We succeeded in getting a number of improvements to the proposals – including planting that better reflected the surrounding ecology and the special characteristics of Parkwood Springs, and a network of paths across the site. The issue where we didn’t get as much as we wanted was when the public would have access to the site.
When the previous planning permission was granted in 2006, it was reasonable to think that as soon as restoration was completed, the public would have access to the site. But of course there were caveats, and unfortunately clear timescales weren’t set. What has been clear to us for some time was that the way Viridor have operated the site meant that safe access to the restored site by the public was going to be slow in coming.
At every stage we have pressed for changes that would make it possible to have safe access to parts of the site sooner. Viridor could have gone along with this if they had chosen to, but they dug their heels in. It is very difficult to use planning law to force a private landowner to give access to the public. Therefore we have had to get the best outcome that we can in these circumstances.
Judged from this point of view, we’ve done quite well. Firstly, a fence will be moved so that we will get access to an area of land that hasn’t been tipped at the southern end of the site, within a year of the restoration being completed in 2020. (It may be sooner.) This will have wetland/pond areas, which we think will be a great
asset for wildlife. There will also be a new broad path through the area, coming up from the bottom of the valley at Neepsend to join the path at the back of the Standish Estate. The path behind the Standish
Estate path will be made at least 1.8m wide, stone covered, and with 1m grass strips on either side, but exactly when is far from clear – we will be pressing for it to be part of the initial scheme. This will be a substantial improvement.
For the rest, Viridor have to draw up a Public Access Scheme, to be approved by the City Council no later than September 2018 (though there are some words that could weaken the effect of this). Then the agreed improvements will need to be made within 3 months. This Scheme will be updated and approved every two years to extend public access.
There will also be an Access Liaison Group, set up within the next six months from now, to include local residents and interest groups and Ward Councillors, to input into the Public Access Scheme. So we have a way of continuing negotiations with Viridor, with a view to getting access as soon as it is safe.
So although we have less than someone reading the 2006 planning permission might have expected, we have some improvements quite quickly, and a way of continuing to press for improvements. We will need to make sure that Viridor is held to these conditions, and that we take all the opportunities that we can.
University students carrying out Parkwood Springs projects
Over the next few weeks students from the University of Sheffield Department of Landscape Architecture will be carrying out projects on different aspects of Parkwood Springs. They will be working on how they think the site could be developed in the future.
We welcome the students to the site, and hope that the projects contribute well to their studies. If you see them around, by all means say hello!
Our newsletter 'Parkwood Springs into Action'