Protesters fume over car park plan near hospitals

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News: Sheffield Telegraph online 24-hours a day.

AN APPLICATION to use overgrown land near hospitals and the University of Sheffield as a temporary car park has prompted widespread protests.

Objectors, including the University and community groups, fear traffic hazards and fumes if council permission is granted to asphalt the area for 140 spaces at the corner of Harcourt Road and Northumberland Road.

One six-year-old protester is telling the council: “Just imagine if you were a hedgehog or worm and a metal floor fell on your house and crushed your friends. It’s just not nice to nature.”

The former British Glass laboratories site is near the University’s Goodwin Sports Centre, academic buildings and Weston Park and other hospitals. Plans for housing were approved eight years ago, but have failed to materialise so far because of the economic downturn.

In a letter to the council, Keith Lilley, the University’s director of estates and facilities management, raises concerns over the extra traffic that would be generated on Northumberland Road, which is used heavily by pedestrians, and the effect of a proposed widening of the entrance to the site.

“We believe the proposed car park will be a backward step for the area and will undo the substantial progress which has been made by the property owners in this location to make it an attractive and educational location.”

Mr Lilley also says a lack of lighting would make the seven day a week car park “dark and potentially unsafe”.

Broomhill Action Neighbourhood Group says pedestrians use the side roads to avoid the “dangerous and unpleasant environment” along Whitham Road. “The roads bounding the site are narrow with dangerous junctions, and already suffer from ‘rat-running’ traffic seeking to avoid delays along the main road,” says secretary Lee Kenny, who also points to the council’s commitment to reduce air pollution.

“The developers wish to exploit what they see as unmet demand for parking by hospital staff and users. However, the hospital itself has abandoned plans to develop large car parks at other sites in Broomhill and is instead seeking to make better use of its existing on site parking facilities.”

Harcourt Community Action warns that if the demand for more roads and car parks is continually met, the result will be “an increase in congestion, danger to pedestrians, pollution and damage to our environment and our health”.

Jon Ashe, a spokesperson for Broomhill Green Party, says: “This big car park would mean even more traffic in the area, which would increase congestion and air pollution. It might also mean a greater risk of accidents, given the number of pedestrians and cyclists, many of them children and students. We hope the council will turn it down.”

Council officers are currently considering the implications of the application, which is for permission for a car park for five years, and has been submitted in the name of Parking Lots Ltd.