A motorway service area threatens Smithy Wood.

A planning application is under consideration by Sheffiled City Council, for an 80-bed hotel, shops and restaurants to be built on Sheffield’s greenbelt.

The proposal comes from the group, Extra MSA, to build a new motorway service site off junction 35 on the M1 between Sheffield and Rotherham.

The plan is for an 80-bed hotel, numerous shops and restaurants although Sheffield city council are yet to make a decision on the planning permission application.

Diane Cox, 63, a retired teacher who lives by the woodland, said: “It’s devastating that these woods could no longer be here in the future. It really does break your heart that instead of a place to bring your grandchildren there will be a massive service station here instead.

“I bring my grandchildren to these woods nearly every weekend and in the summer it’s easy for us to spend a lot of time here instead of them being inside all day every day when they off school. Honestly, it’s gutting.”

Smithy Wood sits within Sheffield’s is a designated woodland area on the Natural England’s Ancient Woodland Inventory and is said to be of national importance because of it’s irreplaceable habitat and unique wildlife.

Liz Ballard, chief executive for the wildlife trust said: “We strongly object to the planning application for Smithy Wood, an ecologically important ancient woodland and Local Wildlife Site which supports a rich and irreplaceable biodiversity built up over many hundreds, if not thousands of years.

“Once again, we call upon Sheffield City Council to refuse this application and work with us to protect Smithy Wood as Community Woodland for wildlife and for future generations of local people to benefit from and enjoy.”

Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust have submitted numerous opposing submissions to Sheffield city council regarding the planning permission.

The planning application is on hold at the moment while another application for a different motorway service station at Junction 33 of the M1 is being prepared for a decision by Rotherham Council.

MSA are adamant that the extra motorway service will improve road safety in the area.

In a statement released by the property development company they say: “The primary purpose of Sheffield Services is to satisfy a road safety need along one of the UK’s busiest stretches of Motorway but it is also about encouraging inward investment, job creation and healthier living.

“In particular, this delivery of Sheffield Services will, improve road safety along one of the UK’s busiest stretches of Motorway, create some 400 jobs during the construction period and generate £1m in Business Rates per year.”

More information about the campaign can be found on https://www.wildsheffield.com/campaign/smithy-wood/

Written by Angelica Giugno

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