Letter: Our city’s heritage deserves protection
This letter was written by Barbara Masters, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Ecclesall
I can’t be the only one thoroughly irritated by the artists’ impressions accompanying so many of the development proposals in and around the city. The one for the scheme for the redevelopment of the Devonshire Green site once occupied by Rare and Racy is a case in point.
The artists’ impression shows a striking building with a wide walkway to one side. Anyone familiar with the site would realise that the relationships between the building, its neighbours and the walkway are disproportionate making it less intrusive than how it would appear on the ground. It also failed to show how it would dominate its residential neighbours, something I bought up at the planning board and echoed and expanded on by other members. A site visit allowed us to set the plans in context of the site and the surroundings. We were tasked with deciding whether the submitted plans were appropriate. What we decided by a majority of six to three with two abstentions was that they were not. People just relying on the artists’ impression might think differently. We believe there are sound planning reasons to refuse the application. Otherwise we risk the developer lodging a successful appeal which is costly.
In answer to my question, the planning officer made clear that the existing buildings cannot be demolished until a plan for replacement has been approved. This theoretically allows the developer to come up with a new plan that will preserve much of the existing site. Whether that will happen remains to be seen. Permission has already been granted for the demolition with replacement .
We’re in this position because in Sheffield much of our heritage is subject to the vagaries of the market place and the priorities of developers. I believe it’s breathtakingly short sighted to allow this situation to continue. Until that changes people will have to take on each challenge as it comes. Our heritage is part of our story and deserves protection. We should celebrate it as other cities which value their heritage have successfully done.