Politicians have called for more planning control for councils as a contro-versial scheme looks set to go ahead in Sheffield.
Almost 20,000 people have objected to plans to knock down independent shops on Devonshire Street in Sheffield city centre and replace them with apartments and shops – the biggest outcry seen by Sheffield Council over a planning application.
Objectors fear the proposal will ruin the character of the street, although agents for the developer insist it will ‘rejuvenate’ the retail block and improve the area .
However, planning officers and councillors can only take ‘material planning considerations’ into account when ruling on applications, rather than public opinion.
Coun Jillian Creasey, Sheffield Council Green Party member for Central ward,said: “The planning committee hasn’t got many options because of planning laws – if they turned it down, the developer would want to appeal.
“So many people have objected. People feel strongly about this and our efforts need to go into trying to change the planning laws so we can have good strong policies about the kind of businesses we want to see in the city centre.”
Paul Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central, said: “I’m sorry the planners find themselves in a position where they have to make a decision based on the rules the Government lays down – if Labour was in power we would give councils greater powers.”
Members of the council’s planning committee will make a decision on the application on Tuesday.