A public consultation is poised to start on a new ‘neighbourhood plan’ covering Sheffield suburbs that has been years in the making.
The BBEST group – Broomhill, Broomfield, Endcliffe, Summerfield and Tapton – has mapped out a district stretching from Ranmoor student village to Weston Park, which would be subject to a blueprint setting out the type of development residents want to see.
In 2015 the group won permission from Sheffield Council to be designated a neighbourhood forum – part of the first stage of putting the plan in place.
Five main themes were then developed: enhancing green and open spaces; maintaining a sustainable and balanced community; boosting the retail centre of Broomhill; offering a better experience for walkers and cyclists, and preserving and enhancing the area’s character.
Now a draft plan has been worked up, ready for a consultation that will run from October 1 to November 11. The document can then be amended ahead of a local referendum that will involve those living in the mapped area, which includes all of Broomhill, streets in Endcliffe and Crookes Valley Park, as well as listed buildings such as King Edward VII School. If more than half vote in favour the policies will be formally adopted.
Neighbourhood planning was introduced by the Government through the Localism Act 2011, and was intended to give people more power over their surroundings.
“Since 2014, BBEST has been consulting with the local community and institutions to develop the plan through both individual and group meetings and research into aspects needing further work,” said Kath O’Donovan, secretary of the group which has over 200 members.
“We now have a draft with five themes, each with relevant policies. The draft has been seen by Sheffield Council planning personnel and by a planning professional.”
The centre of Broomhill – lauded as ‘the prettiest suburb in England’ by the late poet laureate Sir John Betjeman in 1961 – will come under the spotlight. According to consultation documents, the vision is to make it ‘a destination – an interesting hub of specialist and local shops, cafés, pubs and restaurants in a pleasant environment.’
“The central area should be easily accessible, walkable and have provision for one-off events,” says the group, which wants to create a shop front design guide.
Meanwhile members want to reduce the impact of traffic on Broomhill. Paths for cyclists and pedestrians would be improved and car parking restructured, with more attention paid to ‘hidden routes’.
Policies will govern the appropriate scale and density of schemes, with ‘character areas’ covering places like the hospitals, Crookes Valley and Endcliffe. BBEST also aims to protect picturesque views, and introduce measures to ‘maintain and enhance trees’.
To sustain a balanced community, the group suggests improving the quality of housing, especially rental homes, keeping limits on shared properties and imposing space standards if required. The area remains popular with older students and young professionals on tenancy agreements.
Several complementary projects are proposed too, including the expansion of volunteer-run Broomhill Library, the ‘boulevard’ initiative – a long-held ambition to extend the city’s gold route for pedestrians up to Fulwood – and a ban on ‘to let’ signs. These would be funded through a levy on developments.
“The first public consultation will take place online and with print documents in the library,” said Kath.
“Following the consultation BBEST will assess the comments, make changes as appropriate, give reasons if comments have not been accepted, and the plan will go to Sheffield Council for their review. The plan is then reviewed by an external assessor, subject to a further consultation organised by the council and finally, if all goes well, adopted.”
Visit www.bbest.org.uk for details.