A SENIOR planning officer has warned Sheffield University’s plans to demolish the old Jessop Hospital Edwardian wing breached planning guidelines.
An internal email from a manager in Sheffield Council’s planning department raised concerns about the proposals which were approved in December, despite a huge campaign to save the Grade II-listed building.
Due to its listed status, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles will have the final say on the plan, which involves replacing the wing with an £80 million engineering block.
The university said the redevelopment is part of investment totalling £130 million which aims to make its engineering department the world’s best.
The council officer said in his email to colleagues: “The proposals have serious implications and constitute poor design and should therefore be refused in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework.
“However, I understand the economic benefits are considered to outweigh such concerns.”
He warned approving the plan could set a precedent, making it difficult to refuse poorly-designed schemes in the future, saying: “To ensure we do not look foolish as an authority and do not make it possible for us to refuse proposals on design grounds in future, we have to be clear about the balance being struck and the failings of the proposals.”
He said he could ‘come up with very little’ positive to say about the scheme and advised against the council endorsing it in its report to the planning board ruling on it.
Valerie Bayliss, of the Save Jessop Hospital campaign group, said: “We knew there was disapproval from within the council, but we were dismayed by the extent to which expert advice has been ignored.”
David Caulfield, council head of planning, said: “The application is still live as it is now with the Government Office. Unfortunately, for that reason we are unable to comment.
“There is always internal debate on any application and recommendations to grant permission are the considered advice of senior planners.”
The university said: “The application was approved on the recommendation of planning officers.
“A key element supporting that recommendation was the contribution to Sheffield’s local economy of the new development.”