Historic Hallam FC football pub faces demolition

A community is preparing to fight to save a famous footballing pub in Sheffield after developers announced plans to demolish it for houses.

By Molly Williams
Wednesday, 19 June, 2019, 13:37
Peter Duff outside The Plough.

The Plough Inn on Sandygate Road is more than 150 years old and is where the laws of the modern game were drawn up.

But the historic site, which sits opposite Hallam FC – the oldest football ground in the world – is now set to be torn down.

The Plough, at Sandygate, Sheffield.

Peter Duff started a campaign to save the pub three years ago when Sainsbury’s put in an application for the site, which was successfully halted with an ‘unprecedented’ 250 objections.

They also made it an asset of community value – meaning it cannot be developed without approval from planning officers. However, they once again find themselves fighting to keep The Plough standing. Mr Duff said: “We’ve been expecting the application at some point.

“It’s terrible that someone can come along and take something that has so much meaning and heritage for the community.

“It’s an important building. The original site was built 400 years ago and rebuilt by Wynyard Dixon, a steelmaking family. There are very few examples of Dixon’s architecture left in Sheffield.

The Plough in times gone by. Image: Picture Sheffield

“It’s also a massive part of sporting history. Hallam FC was founded in the pub. It would be a real loss.”

Mark Platts, director of Spacepad Construction, submitted the application to Sheffield Council this week.

The plans are to knock down the existing building and build eight three-bedroom houses with car parking.

Despite the large community interest in the site, Mr Duff said the developer refused to talk with them about the scheme.

The original Plough Inn building on Sandygate Road was demolished in 1929. The carved stone over the doorway was dated 1695. Image: Picture Sheffield

“We have always been open to working with someone else who wants to take it on, which is why it’s been really disappointing that the developer refused to talk with us,” he said.

Liberal Democrat councillor Tim Huggan, who represents Crookes and Crosspool and is the council’s heritage champion, said: “It’s been derelict for three years, it’s untidy and understandably people want something done with it. I would like to see something new but sympathetic to the structure and heritage of the site.

“Sheffield has to be careful with its heritage. This is something that is an icon of the community – when people see it they recognise where they are. It’s something the city would lose at its peril.

“They don’t want it to turn into something you can see anywhere in the country. It would be a very sad loss.”

The unused site has attracted interest from various companies and the landlord attempted to let it out but a deal never materialised.

Mr Duff said: “It was marketed at £50,000 a year. I researched the rent prices of other pubs across the country and it’s around £20,000. In our area local pubs rent for around £10,000 to £12,000.”

He said campaigners want to eventually revive it as a pub.

“The next step from this is to mobilize local people to put in objections to the planning department and give good, solid reasons as to why it should be refused.”

Labour councillor Anne Murphy, who also represents Crookes and Crosspool, was one of the first to object.

She said the community has already made a ‘very clear decision’ to oppose redevelopment and their wishes should be honoured.

“Over 300 local people were prepared to invest their own money based on a professional business plan which demonstrated how The Plough could be a thriving local pub, meeting a wide range of community needs and interests.

“The developer is well aware of local feeling but that doesn’t come in pound signs so in their view, profit comes before local democracy.

“Everyone who values community, please think carefully before supporting the idea that our local environment should be controlled by money and private gains rather than local interests. Of course, business and profits are important but not at any cost.”

So far 13 residents have also commented on the application online.

One neighbour said: “I grew up on this road and am so saddened and shocked to think this beautiful building that has been here for hundreds of years is potentially going to be bulldozed for something that will bring nothing to the local area.

“This could be a significant asset to the community. Local people have even demonstrated their willingness to open this as a pub with their own funds. This is at the heart of the home of world football. Other cities would be trying to bring the building back to life and promote it as an asset to the city. Not tear it apart.”

Another said: “There is absolutely no need for more housing in this area, certainly not at the expense of this historically and culturally significant building.

“This building must be saved and preserved.”

The consultation runs until July 3. Spacepad declined to comment.