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The last council plan ning meeting on the Sheffield City Airport debacle will inexorably result in the decline of Sheffield over a period of time.
The decision taken by councillors has a lot of repercussions for the people of Sheffield which will last for years to come. The meeting was to relieve the developers of any obligation to build a business park on the site of our airport. It allowed them to “phase” (build over time) any development over a period of ten years, but without any meaningful strings attached. This is in stark contrast to the commitment given to the council in the first place which allowed them to kill off our airport and grab tens of millions of pounds worth of land in return for just £1. The initial commitment was to be a full blown business park with the promise of thousands of jobs! Now if someone wants the odd warehouse and signs up to it, they will build it. If no one wants anything, nothing will happen and the land on which the airport was built, will lie idle.
Perhaps our council hasn’t noticed but Peel Holdings, the developer, has other interests in South Yorkshire at the Rossington District of Doncaster which includes the former RAF base at Finningly, now Robin Hood airport. At the moment they are angling to get masses of more taxpayers money to expand their operations there, including a new road connecting their site to the M18 motorway. Of course part of the submission will be a promise of tens of thousands of new jobs which is what all developers promise when they want our money. Another attraction is that there is an airport there which will be an incentive for companies, as many want that sort of a transport facility.
However Peel will have to accept commitments to actually achieve something; jobs and the like. But with the help of the airport they will be confident of some success and will convince the Government that is the case. The only problem they have is that passenger numbers at their airport have plummeted since the heyday of 2007 and the airport is in decline, but they will promise that things will get better once taxpayers money has been pumped into their site and adjoining road network. Similar promises which Sheffield had, but which were all subsequently broken!
Does our council think that now it has relieved Peel of any obligations to Sheffield, the developer will give Sheffield a second thought? Do they not think that all the developer’s energies will be directed towards their grand scheme at Rossington, not least because they will be obliged to, as a reward for even further taxpayers money. Another incentive is that they will make a whole load of money! Where possible companies will be “enticed” away from Sheffield, because the Council has let them off the hook, and towards the Rossington/Airport scheme and our airport site will finish up with nothing!
Not only won’t we have an airport, it is highly likely that little, if anything, will be coming the way of Sheffield as the council has probably made one of the biggest blunders in the history of local government.
Once Sheffield had an airport, a big attraction, with an attached business park, but the council has helped kill it off!. The future job prospects may look bleak for many due to the economic situation, but now it has suddenly got one heck of a lot worse for the people of Sheffield!
Did the council, who supposedly owe us a duty of care, actually think through what they were doing, or did they simply sleepwalk towards mediocrity, taking us with them?