Penistone Road retail centre – a failure of planning policy

Penistone Road retail centre – a failure of planning policy

Joint statement from the Upper Don Trail Trust and Cycle Sheffield

This week, Sheffield City Council’s Planning and Highways Committee approved a new retail centre opposite the Hillsborough football ground on Penistone Road.

Developers now have planning permission for retail outlets including a supermarket, gym, drive-thru restaurants and a builders merchants.

They will build them on a largely derelict triangle of land between Penistone Road, Herries Road and Herries Road South.

The Upper Don Trail Trust and Cycle Sheffield welcome the overdue redevelopment of this land. But we are disappointed and concerned that the Planning Committee did not take up our suggestions for improved active travel facilities for people walking and cycling.

Our two organisations objected to planning permission unless the existing substandard active travel provision around the site was radically improved. (Please click here to see our earlier news post in which we set out our concerns)

The city council has declared a Climate Emergency. But planning decisions like this suggest the council is not giving enough priority to sustainable travel.

The Upper Don Trail Trust and Cycle Sheffield are now calling on the council’s Co-operative Executive to review how this planning application was presented and handled by the Planning and Highways Committee.

Today we are issuing the following joint statement:

After the last 18 months of pandemic and a summer of terrifying disasters driven by climate change there is a very widespread hope and expectation that we will at last start to take sustainable travel seriously.

Tuesday’s Sheffield Planning and Highways Committee suggested sadly otherwise when they approved a new retail and leisure park on the Penistone Road/Herries Road triangle site in Hillsborough including a gym, a value supermarket and a coffee shop with only the most minimal concessions to supporting sustainable travel by foot or cycle.

The Upper Don Trail Trust and Cycle Sheffield had requested that the redevelopment of this long derelict site should include an upgrade of a section of the notoriously substandard Penistone Road cycleway which borders the site, to install a controlled crossing for pedestrians and cyclists at the dangerous Herries Road South junction, and that the historic Wardsend Mill Goyt which runs through woodland at the north end of the site be properly restored and opened to public access and stewardship.

Not only was the information presented by officers to the committee at best misleading and at worst plain wrong, but with the honourable exception of new Green councillor Brian Holmshaw, no other member of the committee could even summon enough interest to raise any of these matters, including the chair Coun Peter Price who also doubles up as chair of the council’s Cycle Forum!

To be fair, some widening of the heavily used but seriously substandard Penistone Road cycleway will be delivered but only along a part of the site frontage, and to an unsegregated 4.0m. And an improved design of the new access road designed to give priority to people cycling and walking – essentially a small tarmac ramp – is included “subject to safety audit”.

But the opportunity to provide a consistent full standard, fully segregated walking and cycle route along the whole site frontage on an important radial route has been thrown away, as was the chance to get the developers to pay for a sorely needed controlled crossing of the Herries Road South/Penistone Road junction. These will apparently be left to the council to deliver at some unspecified future date and subject to funding from unspecified public sources and in the case of the crossing, only when the developer decides to do something with the old Charlie Browns auto spares site.

A question about the Wardsend Mill Goyt revealed that no one present even knew whether it was a waterway, let alone its historical or environmental potential.

Most troubling were the reasons given by officers for failing to press for these improvements:

  1. Penistone Road is not considered a ‘Strategic Cycle Route’. Really? It appears on the council’s official cycle map, it’s part of the National Cycle Network and it fits the current criteria for government and city region policy to promote direct ‘utility’ cycle routes following major radials. It’s also a key link in the proposed 20 km Upper Don Trail.
  2. The improvement would constitute “an isolated section” which would be dangerous for users if it was of a higher standard  than adjoining connections. Again, it’s not in any sense isolated and how are staged improvements of existing routes ever going to be justified if this rule is applied?
  3. The improvements for cycling and walking requested would be “disproportionate” since the development was not expected to generate significant extra demand for walking or cycling. This seems to say that most customers and staff are expected to continue to travel by car and that’s ok – a circular argument if ever there was one!
  4. It is not the role of a developer to provide strategic long distance cycle or walking routes. But if that were the case, how is it that the council were able to get Meadowhall to construct a then “isolated” mile of the Five Weirs Walk, or to get Bloors at Deepcar or Barretts at Oughtibridge to build significant sections of the Upper Don Trail, both now on site? Application of this principle more widely would be a huge step backwards for getting the private sector to contribute to the massive task of promoting active travel.
  5. Widening of the cycle-footway at the north end of the site would affect a “protected woodland”. Yet the only trees affected by the modest incursion required into this large area would be a few scrawny self-set sycamore and ground elder, in a woodland desperately in need of management and thinning. Was this really the intent of the Tree Protection Order?
  6. Widening the cycle footway to a preferred 5.0m would require a reduction in parking spaces within the development. This actually isn’t true, as the developer’s own plans showed, but even if it was is that really a good argument in this era?

Far from representing a new determination by the council to  ‘build better’, this decision looks like a massive and dismal step backwards .

We would call for a serious review by the Council’s Cooperative Executive into how this application has been handled and presented to the committee.

Upper Don Trail Trust

Cycle Sheffield

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Trans Pennine Trail 2021 Visitor Survey

If you’ve been walking, running or cycling along the Don riverside then chances are you’ve also been on sections of the wonderful Trans Pennine Trail. You can help them make the national trail even better by giving them feedback in this quick online survey.

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There’s an opportunity to join the Upper Don Trail Trust team

There’s an opportunity to join the Upper Don Trail Trust team

Would you like to get more involved in the work of the Upper Don Trail Trust?

We’ve achieved a huge amount since we relaunched in 2019. Construction or other improvements are underway at many places along the planned route.

Now, at this exciting time, we have a vacancy for the Secretary to the Trust.

It’s a chance to work with our lively, friendly and active committee drawn from many walks of life.

You’ll arrange and record our regular meetings with the Chair. You’ll also be a first port of call for correspondence and member enquiries.

But there is scope to develop the role depending on your own interests and skills.

You don’t need lots of previous experience in an administrative role – lots of energy and enthusiasm is far more important to us!

It’s an opportunity to make a real difference to the beautiful Don riverside stretching all the way from Sheffield city centre to the Peak District national park.

Meetings are monthly, currently using Zoom. The Trust is a registered charity with Charitable Incorporated Organisation status.

Please feel free to contact our Chair if you are interested in this voluntary role and would like to find out more.

You can contact Simon Ogden for an informal chat by emailing

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Volunteers clean up River Don grot spot on Club Mill Road

Volunteers clean up River Don grot spot on Club Mill Road

Community volunteers have blitzed part of the Upper Don Trail that was blighted by fly-tipping and litter.

Around 25 people gave up their time to clean up the riverside along Club Mill Road at Neepsend.

They recovered a huge pile of litter and fly-tipped rubbish between Hillfoot bridge and the Old Park silver mill.

Their haul included three settees, a mattress, parts of several cars, carpets and bags of clothes.

Joanne Lee, of Loxley and Wisewood Litter Pickers, organised the clean-up on Saturday June 12th.

The Loxley and Wisewood group turned out in force. They were joined by volunteers from other Sheffield litter picker groups.

The Blue Loop Troop and members of the Upper Don Trail Trust also turned out to help transform the grot spot.

Arthurs Skips from nearby Neepsend Lane provided a sponsored skip and Amey collected bags of litter.

‘Beautiful but forgotten part of the river’

Simon Ogden, chair of the Upper Don Trail Trust, said numerous walkers and cyclists welcomed the clean-up as they passed by.

“Hopefully this marks the start of more long term steps toward restoring and opening up this beautiful but rather forgotten and much abused part of the river,” said Simon.

Joanne Lee said it was a great few hours work that made a real impact.

“The people I spoke to said it was a lovely group and they’d enjoyed meeting everyone and finding out more about the area,” said Joanne.

“Quite a few had no idea they could get to this stretch of riverside.

“It’s such a special place down there – the view up the river in that section where the trees open out is just beautiful.”

The Trust and the litter picking groups are now planning further community clean-ups along this “forgotten” stretch of riverside.

Arthurs Skips on Neepsend Lane provided a sponsored skip
Arthurs Skips on nearby Neepsend Lane provided a sponsored skip for the clean-up.

Club Mill Road community clean-up sign
The volunteer task force left behind a sign to tell passers-by about the community clean-up.

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See our new Upper Don Trail video to learn about the progress we’ve made in the last year

See our new Upper Don Trail video to learn about the progress we’ve made in the last year

Thanks to everyone who “came along” to our 2021 AGM on Zoom this week.

We had a fascinating evening, featuring really interesting talks about the history of the River Don between Club Mill Road and Wardsend Cemetery.

Our Trust chairman Simon Ogden, and Howard Bayley from Wardsend Cemetery, showed slides of how much the riverside has changed over the years.

As Simon said in the slide you can see above, this stretch of river is now “one of the city’s great hidden assets waiting to be reclaimed”.

That’s one of our overarching aims for the Upper Don Trail. We want rediscover a beautiful riverside running all the way from the city centre to the Peak District National Park!

We’ve made so much progress in the last year that we launched a new video at the AGM to tell you what we’ve been doing.

Huge thanks to our videographer Joey O’Connell of Hove and Co Photography for devoting so much time, love and care to the new film.

You’re a star Joey!

We hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it…

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All welcome at our Upper Don Trail Trust Annual General Meeting

All welcome at our Upper Don Trail Trust Annual General Meeting

From a new active travel bridge at the heart of Kelham Island, to extended countryside bridleways on the edge of the Peak District! We’ve a year of exciting progress to report at the 2021 Upper Don Trail Trust annual general meeting.

The meeting will take place from 6:30pm to 8:30pm on Monday, April 26th.

Sadly, the continuing Covid restrictions mean we will not be able to repeat last year’s convivial and well-attended get-together at Yellow Arch Studios.

Instead, the AGM will take place “virtually” on Zoom. But we still have a packed and varied agenda. We look forward to welcoming all who would like to attend.

It’s an open event although only members will be permitted to vote in the election of officers and trustees.

All you need to take part is the agenda, and a copy of the Zoom meeting link.

New video and illustrated history talk

We plan to launch a new video to update people on progress since last year.

And we’ll have a fascinating illustrated talk about the history of the riverside along Club Mill Road, between Neepsend and Wardsend Cemetery.

We’ll also report on a year of progress

Since last year, we’ve been involved in new initiatives all the way along the Trail from Lady’s Bridge and Kelham in the city centre right up to Langsett on the edge of the Peak District.

Upper Don Trail Trust chairman Simon Ogden is looking forward to reporting a year of progress.

‘We can now look forward to an Upper Don/Little Don Trail of nearly 23 km of which over 11 km is already in place, although some of that needs further  improvement,’ said Simon.

‘Construction of a further 9 km is committed with funding identified, leaving just 2.5 km of missing links.

‘So there’s lots going on. But we also need to make sure that all these separate initiatives come together and that the trail is then well sign-posted, promoted and of course maintained.

‘There is much more for the Trust to do – so why not join us?’

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Upper Don Trail Trust and Cycle Sheffield press for improved active travel routes near Hillsborough

Upper Don Trail Trust and Cycle Sheffield press for improved active travel routes near Hillsborough

The Upper Don Trail Trust and Cycle Sheffield have joined forces to press for radically improved active travel routes near Hillsborough football ground.

We’re urging Sheffield City Council planners to insist on segregated cycleways and safer road crossings as part of a new retail development.

Developers Jaguar Estates have submitted revised plans for a retail centre bordering Penistone Road and Herries Road.

They want to build a mixed-use scheme including shops, warehouses, restaurants, a builders merchants and car repair centre.

The scheme would regenerate a largely derelict triangle of land between Penistone Road, Herries Road and Herries Road South.

It replaces an earlier scheme that received planning permission last year.

The original planning approval required the developers to provide a Travel Plan that would “encourage and facilitate less car dependent living”.

But we and Cycle Sheffield argue the developers have failed to deliver on this. We’re now urging a much stronger commitment to sustainable and active travel.

We are also pressing for restoration and public access to a historic waterway (the Wardsend Goyt) and rundown woodland at the north end of the site.

Well-designed and segregated cycleways would improve the Penistone Road cycle route into the city centre, and would link to a new section of the Upper Don Trail now being planned from Herries Road to Hillfoot.

So, what do we want to happen next?

We have objected to the revised planning application unless the following improvements are incorporated as specific conditions:

  • The Penistone Road cycleway widened and segregated to a consistent five metres along the whole site frontage
  • The footway on the Herries Road frontage to be widened to a consistent five metre width to accommodate a segregated cycleway as part of the site restoration, not simply noted as a future “improvement line” for others to provide
  • The new vehicle accesses from the site to Penistone Road and Herries Road to be redesigned as continuous cycle-footways or ‘blended crossings’ which prioritise walking and cycling over exiting vehicles
  • The traffic lights at the Penistone Road/Herries Road South junction to be converted to a Toucan Crossing at the expense of the developer and as a condition of the use commencing
  • Details of how the woodland and mill goyt area is to be restored, what public access/amenity is to be provided and who is to be responsible for its ongoing management and funding should be provided before planning permission is granted not as an afterthought
  • The development will need to include enhanced car parking restrictions for this area.

What is our active travel message to the developers and the council?

Simon Ogden, chairman of Upper Don Trail Trust, said: “We welcome the regeneration of this long derelict site but much has changed in the world over the last year.

“Developers now need to adjust to the new normal of prioritising active travel such as walking and cycling. It’s no longer acceptable just to focus on car access.”

Dexter Johnstone, of Cycle Sheffield, said: “Sheffield City Council need to ensure this development enhances rather than degrades cycling and walking provision in the area which is already patchy.

“They can do this easily by applying conditions which require the development to meet modern active travel standards.

“It is vital that all new developments in our city are designed to enable more people to travel actively.”

The Jaguar Estates development site viewed along Penistone Road North
Cyclists on Penistone Road currently have to share the pavement with pedestrians. We are pressing for a properly segregated cycleway
The existing cycle route runs along the cluttered Penistone Road pavement. We would like to see a properly segregated cycleway built alongside it.
The Jaguar development site viewed from Herries Road
The development site viewed across Wardsend Goyt from Herries Road, with Hillsborough football ground behind. This litter-strewn verge could make way for a properly segregated cycleway
View of Wardsend Goyt and rundown woodland at the north end of the Jaguar development site
The historic Wardsend Goyt runs through littered and unloved woodland at the north end of the site. This could become a beautiful new public open space.
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Trust warns that Upper Don Trail may be at risk as house builders seek to cut costs in Deepcar

Trust warns that Upper Don Trail may be at risk as house builders seek to cut costs in Deepcar

The Upper Don Trail Trust has objected strongly to proposals by a national house builder to scale down plans for the new riverside active travel route at Deepcar.

House building giant Bloor Homes is building over 420 new homes on the previously derelict old Steins brickworks site alongside the River Don.

Bloor have so far cleared the land and completed a new road bridge across the river to Manchester Road.

The Trust welcomes reclamation of this brownfield land, for which Bloor have already had permission for several years.

But Bloor have now submitted new plans to Sheffield City Council asking to scale down the riverside cycle-footway.

They argue that reclaiming the site is proving unexpectedly challenging, meaning they have too little space for the active travel route as originally agreed.

The Trust are unconvinced. We think the riverside trail is more vital than ever as Sheffield tries to tackle the accelerating climate emergency.

We urge Bloor not to view the Upper Don Trail as a disposable, marginal element of their housing scheme.

Rather, we think they should view the Upper Don Trail as a key asset, making it possible for the new community to travel sustainably in their beautiful riverside environment.

The Trust’s detailed objections

The Trust has submitted detailed objections to the following aspects of Bloor’s revised proposals:

  • the proposed reduction of most of the riverside cycle-footway from 3m to 2m or less. This public route should be seen as one of the most important assets of the development 
  • the proposed diversion of a cycling route onto the narrow Station Road which has no footways or cycle track and is now proposed as a possible bus route
  • the omission of a previously promised footbridge over the river to Manchester Road, connecting the new housing and riverside trail to bus stops and access from the south
  • a new river bank consisting of towering retaining walls of raw concrete at some places as high as the roofline of a two storey house with no attempt to naturalise or green them
  • no apparent access to the river from the top of this wall for amenity, fishing or maintenance

What we would like to happen instead

Bloor’s revised application reveals that will they will save at least £5.1m in landfill and construction costs through their new submission.

The Trust argues that at least some of these savings should be invested in protecting the Upper Don Trail and mitigating the impact of Bloor’s revised layout.

This site has lain derelict for 20 years, blighting the riverside gateway to Deepcar and Stocksbridge. We want to see it reclaimed and developed for much-needed homes.

But in the new circumstances of accelerating climate breakdown, we think every development must now prioritise walking and cycling over car travel to a much greater degree.

We have suggested changes that will protect the route and design of the Upper Don Trail, making it possible for walkers and cyclists to travel together safely and away from busy roads.

We think these changes will actually improve the attractiveness and saleability of the new homes by making the most of this beautiful river setting.

Our proposed changes will improve sustainable connectivity to local shops, workplaces and countryside, making Bloor’s houses more attractive to potential buyers.

How you can help

We are currently waiting to hear when Bloor’s proposals will go before the Sheffield City Council Planning and Highways Committee.

In the meantime, if you support our case you can still make your views known to the councillors who will have to decide whether to approve Bloor’s plans.

You can view the plans by logging on the city council’s planning portal using the link below. We have also included a link to our own detailed objection:

Bloor Homes Deepcar site
Proposed Upper Don Trail routes at the Bloor Homes Deepcar site

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