Moorgate land clearance developer returns with new plans

A DEVELOPER who cleared a swathe of land without permission – and then saw his appeal rejected – has returned with a new planning application.

Residents were angry at the scene of “devastation” and “ecological vandalism” after Alexmon Baby removed vegetation from the hillside between Moorgate and Canklow in 2020.

The project also saw the importation of materials to change the levels of the land, off Reneville Road, which is partly in the greenbelt.

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A retrospective planning application was refused in summer 2022, with Rotherham Council saying the development was “inappropriate and detrimental” to the site.

When the matter went to appeal, the Planning Inspectorate sided with RMBC and said no solid evidence had been provided to demonstrate that that embankment created by changing land levels was stable.

The inspector noted that the only ecological assessment was done after waste was brought on site. He added: “There is therefore no clear evidence to demonstrate what habitats or species may have been present prior to the development.”

Now the application has been resubmitted to Rotherham Council by Mr Baby.

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The fresh planning papers say the development “in simple terms” sought to improve the existing vehicle access away from Reneville Road - allowing vehicles and pedestrians to pass each other without safety risk.

The documents say Mr Baby “decided” to remove the materials brought on site to shore up this widened access to satisfy the council and Planning Inspectorate, replacing them with new “certified” materials.

“The regrading works undertaken were to facilitate a wider safer and more functional driveway,” the papers say.

“The proposals include ecological mitigation which facilitated additional planting and ecological enhancement on the adjacent wildlife site which falls within the applicant’s ownership.”

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But RMBC’s refusal of the first application said the development was inappropriate for the greenbelt, and criticised the tipping of waste material in the wildlife site of Canklow Wood.

A new biodiversity report submitted on behalf of Mr Baby claims the sloped site has since developed into a habitat of “moderate to high ecological value” for invertebrates and small mammals.

The report claims the stumps left behind from the 2020 tree-felling have regenerated and now encourage bird nesting.

At least five objections will be required to bring the new application before RMBC’s planning board, should officers recommend approval.