Stop kicking Sheffield’s local plan into the long grass, say Liberal Democrats

Sheffield Liberal Democrats has tabled a motion at this week’s full council to urge city leaders to bring an end to a decade of local plan delays.

Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 9:38 am
Updated Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 9:38 am

The lack of an up to date local plan was partly blamed for the loss of a planning inquiry last month. A planning inspector overturned Sheffield Council’s decision to refuse a housing estate on treasured greenfield land at Hollin Busk and said its policies were too outdated to have much influence and it could not demonstrate a deliverable five year housing supply, which gives favour to housing schemes.

Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of Sheffield Liberal Democrats, said: “The council’s Labour leadership have kicked this issue into the long grass time after time. We are now at the stage where not having an agreed plan is putting our green areas at risk and could impact the future prosperity of our city.

“Local plans let councils decide where new housing can go and the sort of homes that should be built. By not putting a plan in place the Labour and Green parties now in coalition are risking a free-for-all, with developers able to propose new housing all over our city and the council having less ability to turn them down when housing developments are inappropriate.

Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed

“The council’s leaders have left us defenceless against developers.”

Coun Martin Smith, who proposed the motion, said: “It is critical that we get the right homes in the right places. We need to build for the future with homes that meet the needs of local people.

“This local plan is our city’s opportunity to secure a bright future by building new communities with great environmentally friendly measures in place from day one. New homes should improve our city, rather than detract from it. But we can only make sure this happens by stopping the delay and working to get a plan in place as soon as possible.”

The motion states Sheffield’s population is predicted to grow by approximately 90,000 over the next 20 years and the city will need more than 40,000 new homes over that time period.

Sheffield’s local plan has been in development since 2012 but delayed a number of times. It is now expected to be finalised in 2023 and from that point it will guide developments until 2038.

Mystery surrounds why it was delayed and until it is in place, the council is reliant on policies from the Unitary Development Plan (from 1998) and the Core Strategy (from 2009) which are mostly outdated.

Responding to criticism on its lack of a local plan and five year housing supply following the Hollin Busk loss, a spokesperson for the council said: “We are aware of the need to establish a new local plan and to identify other locations that will meet the five-year demand and our housing targets.”

The council said these were key priorities over the next year and it intends to share timescales for the new plan following a leaders’ meeting this month.

The full council meeting will take place on Wednesday, September 8 from 2pm.