Planners back farmhouse scheme

AFTER planning disputes spanning almost a decade, proposals to build a new farmhouse on the edge of Grenoside, in Sheffield, are finally set to be given the go-ahead.

Wranglings began back in 2002, when four applications were submitted to build a single new house at Top Side, close to a range of converted former agricultural buildings.

Those applications were turned down and an appeal was also subsequently refused by a planning inspector, on the grounds that building a new property would harm the character of the conservation area and prove detrimental to the living conditions of neighbours.

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The inspector also said there was no need to build on a greenfield site when there were plenty previously-developed plots elsewhere.

After going back to the drawing board, however, applicant James Fryer has now submitted plans that have been recommended to be given the go-ahead.

Mr Fryer lives at Top Side Farm, which is one of three buildings arranged around a central courtyard. The plans involve building a new four-bedroomed farmhouse on the same site, with parking for two cars.

City planners in Sheffield admit the application has received a "good level of local interest", with 20 letters of objection being submitted in relation to the plans.

Opponents say the site is on green belt land and should therefore remain undeveloped, the area could not accommodate any more traffic, the application could set a precedent for other new houses and the new building would "overpower" neighbouring properties.

One of Mr Fryer's neighbours said: "We have lived overlooking the farm for 22 years and have enjoyed the rural aspect of this area throughout this period.

"We feel strongly that if more houses are allowed to be built, even just one, it will be the start of destroying what we and others around us have come to cherish and value."

Another objector, who said the new house would have a "massive detrimental effect" on a nearby property in Stephen Lane, added: "There are areas of Sheffield that are urgently in need of development. Grenoside is not one of them."

Ecclesfield Parish Council added its weight to the objections, as has the Grenoside Conservation Society, saying the plans would aggravate existing traffic problems and constitute "overdevelopment" in the green belt.

Planning officers, however, say the site is not necessarily included in the green belt and, on the contrary, falls within a designated housing area.

They also say the council is exceeding its target of achieving 88 per cent of all development on previously-developed land, so the application need not be refused on these grounds.

One extra house, the officers claim, would "make little difference" to local roads and there is already adequate parking within the site. The planners' report says: "The appearance of the house has been designed on the principles of a traditional stone farmhouse.

"The development has been considered against the recently-adopted new Grenoside conservation area appraisal, with the scheme considered to positively reinforce the village's densely developed character and the historic character of the Top Side small farmstead, due to its scale and architectural design."

In recommending that councillors approve the scheme, the planners add: "Officers acknowledge the concerns raised by the planning inspector in response to the previous scheme to develop this site, particularly with regard to the effect on the character and appearance of the conservation area.

"However, it is considered that, on balance, the revised proposal to erect a house on this site is acceptable."