Chaos appears to reign over the Council's cancellation of the Castlegate Conservation Area consultation (Star, 28 February 2019).
The brief reasons offered to the Star for the cancellation sound like any excuses that could be thought up on the spur of the moment, and they are feeble. The Old Town Hall has a new owner; so does that mean that plans for a Conservation Area go on hold every time a building changes hands? The castle remains have been there for some centuries, so their existence is not exactly an unforeseen development requiring a sudden change of plan. Neither would require the Conservation Area description to be rewritten, and in any case the whole point of a consultation is to incorporate any necessary changes.
It is telling that in the announcement of the cabinet reshuffle, none of the portfolios includes any reference to heritage. This is astonishing, given its strategic importance as a driver of economic growth and improved well-being, and as a critical element in creating an environment that people perceive as better and in which they take pride. When this lack of any senior Councillor responsibility results in such abrupt and whimsical changes, it makes the task for those who see a role for our city's historic assets in its future growth - Councillors, officers and activists - nigh on impossible. There needs to be a cabinet member unequivocally committed to and answerable for protecting and harnessing the historic environment. Given the well-known and longstanding fascination of Sheffielders with their heritage, it is a surprise that Councillors are not fighting each other for that responsibility.
J Robin Hughes