Setback for campaign to save Sheffield hardware shop

Andrew Williamsom of Williamson Hardware Broomhill
Andrew Williamsom of Williamson Hardware Broomhill

A CAMPAIGN to save one of Broomhill’s most traditional and longstanding shops from closure has received a setback after councillors were recommended to approve a planning application changing the store’s layout.

Williamson Hardware, on Fulwood Road, has been trading for more than 50 years but its owners fear they are being pushed out to make way for a Sainsbury’s neighbourhood store.

An application has been lodged to install a new shopfront, create two entrances rather than one and to alter the use of some upstairs offices for retail purposes.

Andrew Williamson, a director at the family firm, believes his London-based landlords are refusing to renew the lease with a view to Sainsbury’s taking over the premises for one of its ‘Local’ stores.

The application to make minor alterations is seen as paving the way legally for a change of leaseholder.

Almost 140 letters objecting to the proposals have been sent to Sheffield Council, along with just one letter of support.

But the planning report points out that the application does not name Sainsbury’s as a potential new tenant.

“The majority of the objections assume that Sainsbury’s will be operating within the premises,” the report says.

“The objections seek to support the current local business and prevent any larger company from moving into the area. The application does not mention the use of the premises by Sainsbury’s – moreover, the use by such a company is not material to the assessment of this planning application.

“The application seeks permission to provide a shop frontage that provides access to two individual retail shops rather than one large retail unit. Many of the objections do not appear to have taken note of this.”

The report continues: “In planning terms, it is irrelevant who the end occupier is, provided that the end use of the unit does not prejudice the fundamental purpose of the shopping centre.”

The shop sells items ranging from kitchenware to garden equipment and electrical goods.

Members of the City Centre, South and East Planning Committee have been recommended to approve the application, subject to conditions, at a meeting on Monday.

Mr Williamson is currently away on holiday and is not expected to attend the meeting.

Shopfloor manager Martin Greaves said the recommendation was ‘disappointing’.

“It’s definitely a setback, we don’t really want to go. There are 13 of us working here and we don’t want to lose our jobs,” Mr Greaves said.

The threat has emerged as the shop’s lease nears its end in November 2013.

The shop was established by Mr Williamson’s mother, Winifred, with his father, Sidney, joining later. Mr Williamson’s brother, Jonathan, is also a director but is not involved directly in the running of the business.

A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s said: “We don’t have any confirmed plans for Fulwood Road, although it is a location where we may be interested in opening a small shop should the right site become available.”