Owlthorpe: More than 1,000 people sign petition to save green oasis in Sheffield

More than 1,000 people have given their support to a campaign to save a green oasis in Sheffield.

The 22 acre Grassland Grazing Project is under threat by Sheffield Council’s draft local plan which earmarks it as potential greenfield land for housing.

Green space in Owlthorpe has been at risk of development for some time. It was divided into different plots – C, D, E and F. An application for planning permission to build 72 homes on plot E was refused by the council but the decision was overturned following a public inquiry launched when Avant Homes – the developer – appealed.

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Since then, the council designated plots C and D as local green space – offering protection.

Owlthorpe Fields in SheffieldOwlthorpe Fields in Sheffield
Owlthorpe Fields in Sheffield

But Michael Meredith, of Ecological Owlthorpe, raised alarm after learning plot F was highlighted in the draft local plan for potential housing with capacity for 151 homes.

Mr Meredith launched a petition to protect the site in February which has so far gathered 1,009 signatures at the time of writing. It can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/please-help-save-owlthorpe-heritage-nature-trail?recruiter=1181318080&recruited_by_id=609ff550-705c-11eb-9131-a37644624e75&utm_source=share_petition&utm_campaign=share_for_starters_page&utm_medium=email

He said it was historic land which appeared in the 1086 Doomsday book because sickles and scythes were manufactured there for farming.

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It also has 12,243 trees and hedgerow plants, 64,000 bulbs and 1,500 square metres of wildflower seeds sown.

“Our oasis is a wildlife sanctuary,” Mr Meredith said. “Surely it is difficult to understand why Sheffield Council wishes to destroy our open space, used and loved by the local community.

“If allowed to proceed this project would completely destroy the Owlthorpe Grassland Grazing Project which is a major component of the award winning Owlthorpe Heritage and Nature Trail – a rural oasis in the urban south east of Sheffield.”

Many people left comments explaining why they signed.

Size Huggins said: “I have walked here, laughed here, cried here and mourned here. It has saved my life and sanity. If it has done this for me how many other people are mentally healthy because of this beautiful space.”

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Simon Swift said: “It’s important to keep green spaces for people to help their mental health and the well-being of the whole community.”

Katrina Taylor said: “The nature trail around Owlthorpe allows an open space for all to enjoy.

“The wildlife is plain to see with many varieties of birds and animals who call this home. It is a learning environment for the young, a tranquil open space for busy people who work from home and need the release that a countryside walk gives and an encouragement for the elderly to get out into the wide outdoors in a safe space.

“I know more housing is needed but this must not be at the expense of destroying our green spaces.”

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Christine King said: “It’s a tremendously bad idea to destroy this. Grassland is a threatened resource. Please reconsider.”

Barbara Siek said: “Grasslands are vital for biodiversity, water management, climate mitigation, erosion control, pollination, and continuing the simple pleasures of walking, trekking, bird watching. Building on them is to lose a valuable resource.”