Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Memoranda

Memorandum by Persimmon Homes (South Yorkshire) Ltd (SHC 20)



  The importance of building Millennium Villages is not just to meet the current needs of the housing market but also to have a wider positive impact upon the population as a whole. It is in this context that my clients feel attention should be drawn to the opportunity to instigate another Millennium Village at Brodsworth Quarry north of Doncaster South Yorkshire. For some time now the land owner and my client Persimmon Homes (South Yorkshire) Ltd have been in consultation with the local community adjoining the site and there is a real appreciation amongst the local population that the redevelopment of this former quarry site may have major positive impacts upon the wider community. These impacts are not just improved environments but improved access to facilities and services. Also important is the impact that such a building project will have on the overall image of the area which is one of Doncaster's more disadvantaged locations. Significant development here of the size proposed is recognised as being able to significantly alter the market profile not just for new dwellings but also for second hand stock and the rented sector.

  Development Land and Planning Consultants have been requested to make this submission on behalf of Persimmon Homes (South Yorkshire) Ltd with particular reference to the Deputy Prime Minister's comments regarding Millennium Villages. Our clients control an area of land in Doncaster (South Yorkshire) to the north of the Town Centre which we consider would make a suitable location for a Millennium Village and as such assist in addressing not only the future housing needs of the area but just as importantly would address issues such as community building and failing housing markets.

  Our clients interest is a former quarry that has been excavated under a number of different permissions over a long period of time. This former quarry which is located adjacent to the settlement of Adwick le Street with the housing areas of Woodlands and Highfields forming its northern and eastern boundaries. Also to the north is the large scale sub regional employment allocation of Red Farm which has now been started and has completed the junction improvement on the A1(M). To the west is the former waste tip from the Colliery. This tipped area is being regarded by Yorkshire Forward to provide informal leisure opportunities for the local population although access to the area is poor due to the former quarry in between it and the residential areas. The tip and the other higher ground to the south provide an enclosed setting for a well contained plan—led extension to the existing settlement. The much higher levels are considered to be fundamental to the future growth of Milton Keynes and as such to the achievement of the Deputy Prime Minister's stated objectives in his speech of 18 July 2002.


  It would be incorrect to assume that all of South Yorkshire is suffering from poor housing markets many areas of good quality private housing has seen substantial increases in recent years but other areas notably areas of social housing has experienced poor markets (Study of Yorkshire & Humber Housing Markets by Centre for Urban Studies University of Birmingham). This is possibly due to the fact that many younger people in the area are rejecting this form of tenure and are entering private market housing or even private rented, despite in some cases the; latter being of poorer quality.

  As well as a strong contrast between areas of high market demand and failing markets there is also the issue in South Yorkshire of continuing out migration and the aging of the population as the younger members of the population leave the area. Sheffield has lost some 36,400 population, in contrast Doncaster has only lost 4,000 people but this still represents some 1.4% of the population since 1981.

  In these circumstances the dwelling provision made in the RGP12 might appear generous however it is important to note in any assessment of housing requirements to 2016 the changes that have taken place since the 1996 household forecasts on which the RPG figure is based.

  The situation is not just that the RPG figure is, in light of much more recent information, substantially under supplying the housing needs of the area, but that other changes to the economy have also impacted upon household formation since even the 1996 household forecasts were published. The household projections are not estimates of total need but forecasts of effective demand for housing under recent socio-economic conditions. As such these forecasts are likely to fluctuate depending upon a number of variables including:

    —  Increase in GDP Per head of 0.25% per year may result in an increase of 5% in the household projections to 2016.

    —  Decrease of mortgage rate by 1% over period of the projection may result in an increase of 7% in household projections to 2016.

    —  Decrease in unemployment by 1% over period of projection may result in an increase of 1% in household projections to 2016.

  Source: "Projections of households in England to 2021" Annex G.

  These variables may not be independent and their results can not be summed. The following changes however all suggest that the economic conditions are moving in the direction of increased forecasts of demand. Since 1996 the following has occurred:

    —  The continued support for the economic growth of the region.

    —  A decrease in mortgage rates of 1.5%.

    —  A decrease in unemployment in the Doncaster to 5.7% by 2001 a decrease of approximately 9% since 1997.

  The impact of all these factors is to increase the effective housing demand. It is therefore highly likely that with economic conditions favourable to housing need becoming effective housing demand that the levels of household formation from the same population may increase by up to 7%.

  The low level of housing requirements set in RPG12 requires all South Yorkshire authorities to reassess all of their greenfield allocations (table 1 below) and all but Barnsley have either a formal or an informal moratorium on greenfield development. There are growing concerns that this is not leading to regeneration but assisting to fuel both house price rises in areas with a string market and further outward migration. This moratorium does not concern itself with the delivery of dwellings but are justified by urban capacity studies which indicate an academic potential rather than deliverable sites. It is the understanding amongst the councils that as so little new land is required then there is no urgency in development plan review as decisions regarding housing development on both greenfield and previously developed land will be upheld on appeal due to the level of "potential" suggested in these studies.

Table 1


Housing land provision at 1998
RPG policies
Other permission
Brownfield element, current
RPG total
RPG brownfield
@ 38.17/ha
Brownfield %
Existing greenfield commitments
Total additional greenfield required by
Additional Greenfield releases above existing commitments

S Yorkshire

  It is our concern that opportunities such as the one represented by our client's site are not being brought forward or considered due to the weight being attached to PPG3 and the capacity studies that have had no level of public consultation. As the above table indicates all areas are required to identify significant levels of previously developed land for future housing needs as well as reconsider all greenfield allocations. The proper arena for making such allocations is the development plan process and yet there is no urgency to undertake reviews despite the fact that all of the plans in the sub region are out of date. The lack of urgency with regard to the review process means that opportunities such as that represented by my clients site can not be considered by the public.


  This previously excavated site is presently covered by a greenbelt designation however its exclusion from this designation could be justified under Policy P1 of RPG12 which suggests that development within transport corridors (including greenbelt sites) could be considered for development where such sites offer benefit in terms of "very significant advantages" in terms of reduced car dependency compared to other alternatives. It is our opinion that the site subject of this representation does offer such significant advantages.

  The site is of such a size as to provide a number of facilities such as shops, nursery, doctors, possibly a school and employment. These facilities will argument the existing facilities close by, such as the shopping area at Woodlands which consists of a variety of services including food and non-food shops and a public library.

  The development will also provide a comprehensive set of footpaths and cycleways which will connect the residential and employment areas proposed with the existing and proposed residential areas to the north as well as the Red Lodge employment allocation which is currently under construction with some major parts now occupied. There is the potential to create pedestrian links to the existing shops, as there is a proposed cycleway/footpath, that runs to east of the site, which could be linked in with the existing footpaths in the residential areas of Woodlands. Increased accessibility to and from the site is fundamental to the approach to integrate the development with the existing area. It is the potential to access improved services as well as the perceived environmental improvements that are encouraging local communities groups to support this proposal.

  Access to the public transport system maybe easily extended into the proposed development and this improved service would also have benefit to the adjoining residential properties.

  Doncaster is only 6.5 km away and is easily accessible by, a regular bus service and by train from Adwick Train Station which is also served by the local bus. Doncaster centre offers a wide range of facilities, from supermarkets to clothes shops including entertainment such as cinemas, bars and other leisure activities. The station also provides links to Doncaster, Wakefield, Sheffield, Leeds, York and other local destinations. The services leave the station on average every half an hour, until approximately 23:00.

  There are six schools within 2 km of the site. There are five primary/junior/infant schools and one secondary school. The nearest schools are the Woodlands Junior and Infant Schools, located some 900 metres north of the site, within easy walking distance. Informal discussion has already taken place with residents groups as to the ability to upgrade this facility to take additional pupils or the provision of a new school on the development itself to meet the needs of both the existing and future residents. The secondary school, Adwick School is located approximately 1.8 km north of the site. All of the schools surrounding the site have spare capacity and this is indicative of the changing nature of the population in this part of the area. New private led regeneration could in our view assist to stem this decline and add vitality and additional expenditure into the local economy.

  The closure of the quarry and other extraction industries including the Coalmine to the immediate north of the site has resulted in the loss of employment opportunities, the UDP, allocates a significant portion of land immediately to the north of the site for employment/industrial use. This allocation is bringing jobs back into the area and this proposal would provide an opportunity for people to live and work close to home. The employment site would be accessible along the proposed cycleway/footpath that runs along the eastern edge of the site north to the employment site. It is our opinion that the development of this employment allocation will require a range of housing to support it, if people are to be provided with the opportunity of living and working in close proximity.

  With regards to leisure facilities, there are a number of leisure opportunities both formal and informal located around the site. The potential to upgrade these facilities as well as providing additional facilities on site have been subject to discussion with the local population. There are already some playing fields 500 metres south east of the site and an area of public open space in Highfields some 600 metres east of the site. There is a large area of public open space, located 450 metres to the east, which includes Hanging Wood, this has a number of footpaths, including the proposed cycleway/footpath running through and alongside it. A more formal park, called "The Park" is located 800 metres north east of the site. A leisure centre and sports ground and playing fields are located approximately 1.2 km from the site, and is within easy walking and cycling distance, the centre is also accessible by bus.

  With regards to the ability of the existing highway system to accommodate additional traffic caused by new development, the site will feed the Great North Road via Green Lane, which has sufficient capacity to ensure there is no significant impact upon traffic congestion in the area.

  In respect of the sites suitability for development in environmental terms it was previously quarried and is now derelict, with very limited scrub vegetation presently growing on parts of the site much of the remainder is still bare bedrock. The site lies below the level of the surrounding land due to the quarrying, this provides effective screening from the open countryside and development here would avoid any impacts upon views of the landscape to the south of the site. The woodland planting defines the site boundaries on the southern and eastern edges can be retained although the proposed development will strengthen of existing peripheral landscaping, helping to soften edge of the development.The site has been surveyed and there is no indication of any protected plants or species existing within or using the site. Development of the site and the subsequent introduction of additional planting and potential wildlife habitats will assist in helping to attract and encourage wildlife to the area.

  Work undertaken by the client's engineers has confirmed that if restoration was a considered alternative then it is unlikely to result in land of agricultural grade 4.


  This submission has demonstrated that the Brodsworth Quarry site, if developed, will comply with the criteria for sustainable development, as put forward in a wide range of national and local guidance. It would in our opinion represent a significant contribution to providing for housing need without developing greenfield land requirement as set by the RPG.

  The site represents a viable and suitable location for housing development, it is located on the former Brodsworth Quarry the site is located in close proximity to shops and schools, it is also is close to a number of bus stops that provide regular services to local shops and further afield such as Doncaster centre. A large area of land immediately to the north is proposed for employment use, this combined with the development of the site for housing would help revitalise the area.

  It is nevertheless acknowledged that development of the site will need to address a number of issues to ensure the potential for sustainable development that currently exists is fully realised.

  The following undertakings will form an important part of any future development of the site and help ensure the development is sustainable:

    —  Improved pedestrian/cycle links along Green Lane.

    —  Inclusion of Bus Stops along Green Lane, and into the site.

    —  Improved links with the proposed cycleway/footpath.

    —  Formation of wildlife habitats (possible in co-ordination with the Yorkshire Forward project to the west).

    —  Inclusion of a variety of housing types and tenures.

    —  Inclusion of small elements of employment, shopping and community facilities.

  In considering the potential for new sites to be identified as Millennium Villages the Deputy Prime Minister is requested to give this location serious consideration as it would have the advantage of assisting to build a community which has suffered economic and population decline. New development in this location will assist in restoring the housing market for private sale and rented (both private and SRLs). The proposal already has the support of elements of the community and the developer and landowner have already started negotiations with the Highfields Community Partnership whose area is adjacent to this site.

  At present it does not have the support of Doncaster Council as they are unwilling to consider the sites potential outside of the development plan process. While this is understandable the fact that the development plan is out of date and progress on the review is considerably slower than that required in terms of the guidance my clients have sought this opportunity to raise the issue directly with the Deputy Prime Minister as the site is of a size and character which could easily fit within the established criteria for a Millennium Village.

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