Sheffield apartments plan approved by council despite 90 objections – “it’s soul destroying”

Members of a neighbourhood group spoke out against the plans at the planning meeting of Sheffield City Council that considered the proposal on Tuesday (August 9) from developers Everlend Ltd.

The vacant former Laces boxing gym building stands on the small riverside site near the new Abbey Glen housing development, terraced houses and small businesses close to Abbeydale Road.

Planning officer Chris Heeley explained that the proposal is to build two three-storey blocks. The ground floor would be a basement or under-storey with parking for 11 vehicles and 24 cycles, plus two commercial units.

A picture from HLM Architects of the site of a development on Little London Road, Sheffield. Sheffield City Council approved plans to build 14 apartments, two business units and a riverside walk on the site, despite 90 objections

Both blocks would include green roofs and solar panels.

Chris Heeley said: “The objections in a large part are concerned with the impact on Coniston Road and Arnside Terrace. They are either facing the site or adjoining the river.

“We feel that a lot of these concerns have been either addressed through the design changes of the orientation of windows or are justified in the context.

“The scheme enhances biodiversity on the site through the use of green roofs across a large proportion of the site, additional planting and naturalisation of the river frontage and also by ridding the site of invasive species.”

An image from HLM Architects of a development on Little London Road, Sheffield. Sheffield City Council approved plans to build 14 apartments, two business units and a riverside walk on the site, despite 90 objections

He said that some flood protection measures are being put in place.

He added: “Overall it is a positive, sustainable development of that currently vacant site that has a derelict appearance.”

Dan Hazlewood of Arnside Terrace and Viv Thom from Coniston Road spoke at the meeting.

Dan Hazlewood said they were representing neighbours and conservation groups who had submitted 90 objections.

An image from HLM Architects of one of two blocks in a development on Little London Road, Sheffield. Sheffield City Council approved plans to build 14 apartments, two business units and a riverside walk on the site, despite 90 objections

‘Not in keeping with the character of our homes’

“The objectors believe in the need to meet housing targets but we believe this plot is too small to accommodate a development of this size.

“It is a riverbank location and one of the few where the River Sheaf can be seen and accessed and 14 small apartments are not worth the adverse effect on the neighbouring houses and the general amenity of the wider community.”

He said that one concern was overlooking of houses as windows were closer than the council’s recommended guidelines for residential design.

An image from HLM Architects of what a new development on Little London Road, Sheffield will look like. Sheffield City Council approved the plans. despite 90 objections

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A proposed new riverside footpath had been imposed on them without any consultation, would create further overlooking of neighbouring homes and potentially attract anti-social behaviour, he said.

Residents were also concerned that blocks would overshadow their homes and gardens for part of the year.

Viv Thom said: “We believe that planning policy has been overlooked when it comes to the density of this proposal. This land is designated commercial and light industrial, not residential primarily.”

She said guidelines allow the policy to be overlooked when good design is achieved in character with the area but added: “This proposal is clearly not in keeping with the character of our homes. It is a bland design in our view.”

The objectors were also worried about the possibility of more on-street parking and increased traffic.

‘Developers have listened to most of the criticisms’

Viv Thom said: “This tiny stretch of river bank is not a suitable location for such a development. It definitely doesn’t sit comfortably on the site.”

Andy McIntyre, for the developer’s agent, said changes had been made to the design to overcome objections.

He said: “There are a wide range of planning benefits to the local area. It’s reuse of a brownfield site.”

He added: “These are energy-efficient buildings with renewable energy technology and premises for small businesses or start-ups.

“There are 14 new homes that will contribute to the housing supply.”

Several councillors said that they were voting for the plan reluctantly because they could not see any planning issues to refuse it but nobody voted against. They had been to visit the site the day before the meeting.

‘A complete farce and waste of time’

Committee joint chair Coun Dianne Hurst (Richmond, Labour) said: “I do feel for the residents. They have had building already and there is more to come on the other side of the river.

“But, looking at the development that is put before us, which was what we’re required to do, and reviewing all the questions we’ve asked in previous months” – she then gave a long list of issues – “I have to say these developers have listened to most of the criticisms we have had of the developments and schemes that have come before us in recent years.

“With the existence of the tilted balance (in favour of building new homes), I can acknowledge that existing residents have concerns about this development but I can’t find any planning reason for refusing it.”

Afterwards, Dan Hazlewood said he found the decision “pretty soul destroying” after spending so long building a case to put before councillors.

“One of the councillors who spoke to us afterwards did say we’re under so much pressure, we have to say yes, otherwise it goes to central government and gets overturned, which just makes it seem like a complete farce and waste of time.

“Why sit down and pretend we have got some kind of democratic process when ultimately the bigger picture is we are going to build everywhere we can, no matter what the potential consequences are on local communities.”

Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts has hit out at an ‘impossible’ Government house-building target of 53,000 new homes in Sheffield.

The city council is working on a new local plan to guide future developments. Until it is place, the balance is tilted in favour of allowing new home schemes.

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