'No reasons to refuse Whiston houses on highways grounds,' says Rotherham Council

'No reasons to refuse Whiston houses on highways grounds,' says Rotherham Council

By Gareth Dennison | 09/11/2020

'No reasons to refuse Whiston houses on highways grounds,' says Rotherham Council
The land to be developed


OBJECTORS warned of the “immense” effect of adding 450 houses near Worrygoose island as the plans were passed by Rotherham Council.

The application, from AE Waddington, R Parkes & V Foers, is for a Whiston site taken out of the greenbelt by RMBC in 2018.

The huge opposition saw 320 letters of representation sent to the council, including from Whiston Residents Action Group, the village’s parish council and MP Alexander Stafford.

Planning board member Cllr Peter Short said he walked Worrygoose Lane most mornings with his grandchildren.

He added: “Unless you’re a resident, you don’t understand what this are is like or what this development will cause this area of town.

“Between 8am and 9am, the line of traffic extends all the way down past Cow Rakes Lane, down to Greystones.

“I have to wear a scarf or my eyes would stream with the air pollution.

“How an officer can say that there isn’t an air pollution problem there, I’m amazed.”

RMBC development manager Lisa Brooks said tests done at the roadside at Worrygoose island in 2018 and 2019 had showed a 4.5 per cent fall in nitrogen dioxide.

Cllr Short told Thursday's meeting: “All the residents are not ‘nimbies’. They have come along with genuine concerns. the mitigation measures at Worrygoose island will not help the matter at all.

“The effect that 450 new homes will have is immense. The residents should be our primary motivation as councillors.

“Saying that it’s just an outline application just means that we are kicking the can down the road.”

The suggested agreement with the developers includes highways improvements at the roundabout. These comprise widening Worrygoose Lane, a 500-metre bus lane on the A631 East Bawtry Road to the west, widening the Broom Lane and Herringthorpe Valley Road approaches and adding a pedestrian crossing on West Bawtry Road to the east.

Senior highways officer Ian Ferguson said the mitigation measures would mean peak morning traffic similar to levels currently experienced. 

In the afternoon peak time, three of the four roundabout junctions would be improved. 

The exception will be the western side of East Bawtry Road but Mr Ferguson said: “The residual impact is not considered to meet the threshold of secure.

“The accident record for the area does not indicate any significant issues.

“The impact of development traffic cannot be considered to be severe, bearing in mind the mitigation measures.”

Mr Ferguson said RMBC was “comfortable” with the effect on Whiston crossroads. He added: “Taking all things into account, it is considered that there are no justifiable reasons to refuse on highways grounds, subject to the conditions listed in the report.”

Cllr John Turner was the only other planning board member to vote against the plans, saying the cumulative impact of such housing developments was not being considered.

“We should be thinking about not congesting Rotherham” he added. “We should be looking at things at a strategic level.

“This is going to place there probably 1,000 kids. It might put there at least 1,000 cars. Coming out of the golf club, coming down East Bawtry Road, is an extremely difficult operation.

“I can’t tell you how strongly I feel about this.”

Board chairman Cllr Dave Sheppard told him: “From a strategic level, we put into place a fantastic local plan. In these meetings, we are looking at individual applications.”

Cllr Mick Elliott said he was fully aware of Whiston’s flooding problems, with some residents still unable to return home following last November’s downpours.

It was “incomprehensible” that the Environment Agency did not wish to comment on these proposals, he added.

But he voted in favour of the application after being convinced by officers that effective drainage solutions could be found.

Cllr Brian Steele said: “I do have some concerns but at the end of the day, this has been put in Rotherham’s Local Plan for housing, so consultation took place at that point.”

Cllr Alan Atkin was pleased to see the full quota of 25 per cent affordable housing, because developers were increasingly claiming this requirement made projects not viable.