All-clear for housing on University halls site

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News: Sheffield Telegraph online 24-hours a day.

An end was in sight this week to a nine-year saga over the proposed redevelopment of the site of former University of Sheffield halls of residence for private housing.

Plans for 63 houses and 34 apartments to replace the former Tapton halls of residence were approved by councillors, despite community concerns the quality of the scheme was not high enough.

It means that the University can press ahead with a deal with Taylor Wimpey for the land between Crookes Road and Taptonville Road.

Members of Broomhill Action Neighbourhood Group were disappointed at the verdict, but expected it after council officers gave their support to a revised application for the conservation area.

However, Lee Kenny, who chairs the community group, said: “We are pleased that they listened to some of the points we made.” In particular, councillors added a condition the homes should be built in stone, not red brick.

The University has been looking to replace the old seven-storey block and other properties with private housing since 2005. It has often run into opposition from community representatives and other residents because of the impact on the conservation area.

One application was dismissed after a public inquiry, another was approved two years ago, but never reached fruition.

Ms Kenny said: “We want to see family housing, but want it done sensitively.”

Sections of the proposed housing would be too densely packed, while the tallest sections were going on the highest point, resulting in part in a “very tall and skinny” development.

“It is badly thought through and the quality is not good enough. The council is letting them get away without making a contribution to affordable housing.”

BANG now aims to work with the developers to try to secure improvements.

Council planners say they have taken into account the comments of the Government planning inspector after the inquiry, concluding that the latest proposals will “preserve the character and setting” of the conservation area.

At the same time, they say the application does not, in their opinion, “reach the same level of quality” as the one it amended.

Councillors granted permission on Tuesday for a development of three and four bedrooms houses and two-bedroom apartments. Two buildings - Hadow House and the Coach House - are due to be turned into two-bedroom apartments.

Most of the walled garden would be lost, but a landscaped area would be retained, with public access.

Labour member Peter Price said he could see a successful appeal to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles if the council rejected the application.