Crunch time for church student flats scheme

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CONTROVERSIAL plans to convert an old Sheffield church into student flats face a crucial vote next week.

Nearby residents and the University of Sheffield have raised concerns over a scheme to create accommodation for up to 98 students in the former Crookes Valley Methodist Church at the corner of Crookesmoor Road and Crookes Valley Road, believing it would tip the balance in terms of student numbers in the community.

But council officers believe it offers a chance to save the empty grade II-listed building that was built in 1880 and is now suffering from extensive vandalism, squatting and illegal rave parties.

“On balance, the proposal represents an acceptable development that will provide a positive uplift and investment in the area, but most importantly... will secure the long-term future of a prominent grade II-listed building that is currently at risk,” they say.

Councillors decide on Tuesday whether to accept the advice, which falls short of recommending that the application from Northern Eye Properties is approved while the issue of affordable housing remains outstanding. It is due to be resolved by the time of the committee.

At the same time, the council is under pressure from objectors.

Harcourt Community Action Group warns of a concentration of student flats and bedsits in the area and fears more late-night noise, litter and traffic congestion, saying: “The building should be converted and used for community use instead of student accommodation.”

The university claims the scheme amounts to “overdevelopment” and is also concerned about the balance between the student and the permanent community. Although the accommodation would potentially target its students, the university has no links with the property, it points out.