Hopes of using derelict land for ‘invisible’ home set to vanish

PLANS to build an unconventional, eco-friendly underground house on derelict land north of Sheffield are “inappropriate” according to the local authority.

David Rogers, who runs a building company based in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, has applied to build a four-bedroom house into the ground near the A616 Whams Road in Crow Edge,

The house - which Mr Rogers would live in himself - would have a grass roof, stone walls and be almost entirely invisible from the busy Sheffield to Huddersfield road nearby.

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The planning application has been submitted to Barnsley Council on Mr Rogers’s behalf by architect Michael Clynch.

He said: “It’s a house that would be built on an unused small area of land behind what used to be a pub site and is now a housing development. We hope that the planning board will support it.

“It’s an unusual one – this house has a completely green roof and, unusually for an underground house, a small courtyard which lets in the sunlight.

“The house would mean this patch of land is properly cared for, and nobody would know Mr Rogers was there. I’m really quite excited about it.”

The three-metre high building would have a vegetated green roof and would be completely invisible from the east, west and south. From the north, “which has no significant public access” only small areas of natural stone wall, partly covered with planting, would be visible..

Heating would come from natural sunlight and insulation would be provided by the “green” roof which would absorb rainwater.

The planning application says: “Unlike some eco-homes the property can be inhabited without excessive pressure on lifestyle choices, which cannot be enforced, yet provides an environmentally-friendly solution.”

Two members of the public have written to Barnsley Council backing the plans, saying that the home could be built with “little or no visual impact on surroundings”

Just three letters of objection have been received, saying that the house would have a detrimental impact on wildlife, create parking problems and would enlarge the footprint of the existing Crow Edge village.

Opponents also claim that the land in question is contaminated, there is inadequate drainage and there could be flooding problems.

Two previous applications from Mr Rogers for the same site have been refused, first by Barnsley Council and then again at appeal by a planning inspector.

In 2007 he applied to build two detached houses and garages, but the inspector backed up the decision of the planning board, saying that the scheme would have resulted “in a material loss of safeguarded land.”

The second application, for one detached bungalow, was refused for similar reasons, with the inspector saying it would have resulted “in the loss of a substantial part of this safeguarded land and a significant change in its character.”

Town planners in Barnsley have now advised that this new planning application should also be refused when it is considered by councillors at a meeting at the Town Hall today.

In the report set to go before the committee meeting, town planners say the application should be refused as the site is not “within a designated housing policy area.”

The planners add that the proposed eco-home would be “inappropriate to the form and character of the village.”

The report says: “It is acknowledged that the design of the dwelling reduces its impact on the visual amenities of the area compared to previous schemes.

“However, the proposed scheme is still considered contrary to the council’s strategy relating to safeguarded land, and also proposes development that would be in conflict to planning policy.

“Previous decisions at appeal have backed up these fundamental principles .”