"Seven years of hard work": residents to vote on Sheffield neighbourhood plan on election day

Residents in a Sheffield area will be asked to vote on a proposed ‘pioneering’ neighbourhood plan on May 6 that has taken seven years to perfect – and it could pave the way for many other areas in the city.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 6:00 am
The Broomhill area of Sheffield. Lawson Road. Picture Scott Merrylees

Residents in the Broomhill, Broomfield, Endcliffe, Summerfield and Tapton (BBEST) Neighbourhood Plan Area will have the opportunity to have their say on how their communities will be shaped in the future, when they can cast their vote in a referendum on a Neighbourhood Plan for their area on May 6.

The plan, which has been developed by the BBEST Neighbourhood Forum, gives residents more power when planning priorities for their area, such as developing green spaces, identifying locations for new homes, and influencing plans for infrastructure and retail.

Professor Peter Marsh, chair of the BBEST Forum, said: “We started it because we could under the Localism Act 2011, which gave local neighbourhoods the chance to make policies, rather than Sheffield-wide policies, and because planning has mattered quite a lot in this area because its a residential area with very big institutions in it – it has the Hallamshire Hospital, and the university.

St Marks Green in the Broomhill area of Sheffield, where the new neighbourhood plan focuses. Picture Scott Merrylees

"So there is obviously land tension through it. Also because we thought we would enjoy learning about our neighbourhood and its history and the architecture.”

The proposed plan will need a majority vote of over 50 per cent and focuses on five key areas: ‘Environment and Green Spaces’, ‘Sustainable and Balanced Community’, ‘Broomhill District Centre’, ‘Active Travel’ and ‘Design Development and Heritage Management’.

Active travel has already been a ‘pioneering’ element in the plan, with commuters from Broomhill choosing to travel by foot before efforts were made city-wide to limit car usage.

“This has been a very engaging process,” said Professor Marsh.

The BBEST plan aims to benefit retail, as well as green spaces, in the area. Picture Scott Merrylees

"The plan has to go to an examiner at the end and they produced a detailed, 100-page report on our plan and one of the comments was that we had an ‘exemplary’ process of public engagement. So that has been a great.

"Surely we have got it right, in the five areas. Some we have pioneered and hopefully that will become helpful. One of our five main strands is called ‘active travel’, so now active travel is a big deal and I told the councils years ago the major mode of commuting in our area is on foot, not least because of students and staff, but they were surprised. And now they completely get that.

"We have pioneered a number of things and I hope that will be the kind of thing they think about when they vote, as I hope they will, “yes” for the plan.”

The vote will be just one of four for residents in the BBEST area on May 6, along with local council elections, the policing vote, and the governance referendum.

Professor Marsh also hopes this will be adopted across the city, with areas such as Dore and Kelham already planning: "I hope it spreads and I think the council should promote it in all parts of the city.

"I really hope it will – Dore is really quite advanced, and Kelham a lot earlier. But Stocksbridge is also in it, but that is a Parish Council and Parish Councils can just do this.

"I think other areas should do it and I think councils are missing a trick. It does help with social regeneration, it can help with economic regeneration and frankly, it will look nicer if those policies are taken up in the developments.”

Michael Johnson, head of planning at Sheffield City Council, added: “This is an important opportunity for residents in Broomhill, Broomfield, Endcliffe, Summerfield and Tapton to have their say on their area.

The BBEST Neighbourhood plan sets out a series of principles that will contribute to helping make decisions on future planning applications for the area. The referendum will be open to all residents in the local community to vote.”