Sheffield office conversion wins approval after developer alters plans

The former Wake Smith & Co office in Clarkehouse Road.
The former Wake Smith & Co office in Clarkehouse Road.
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A developer will be able to turn a 19th century office block into apartments after making changes to its plans to ease heritage concerns.

Councillors this week granted Primesite UK Ltd permission to convert the former Wake Smith & Co building in Clarkehouse Road.

As well as turning the offices into 11 houses, the developer will also be able to knock down an extension to the building and put up two modern-looking houses.

The site is opposite the Botanical Gardens and is part of a conservation area, so any new development has to be in keeping with the surrounding area.

Primesite had originally wanted to create nine apartments in the existing building and build another block comprising two apartments as well as the two houses.

But the plans were changed after neighbours and heritage campaigners raised concerns.

Proposals for the redesign, including the two modern homes.

Proposals for the redesign, including the two modern homes.

The updated proposal received an important vote of confidence from Historic England, which said a ‘contemporary interpretation’ of the surrounding buildings would be an ‘interesting way of responding to the character and appearance of the conservation area’.

Concerns were raised about the size of the roof windows facing Clarkehouse Road. The developer reduced their size, satisfying planning officers, and the application was approved by councillors on Tuesday.

Coun Michelle Cook said: “This is bringing a building back into use and looks to me as if it’s taken into account the sensitivity of the conservation area and heritage involved.”

Following the meeting Adam Murray, director of Coda Planning which acted as a consultant to Primesite, said the scheme would bring back the historic building ‘to its former glory’.

How the refurbished building should look.

How the refurbished building should look.

He added: “We stepped in to ensure that the proposal was moving in the right direction. This was after many different options had gone before before the planning authority in pre-application.

“A previous application was also withdrawn, as it was not to the liking of the council planning officers.

"The contemporary approach provides a nice contrast between the grand old building to the front of the site and the new additions.

“The designs are also supported by Heritage England and the council’s urban design team. The siting of the extensions and new additions also respect the neighbouring buildings and the character of the surrounding streets.”

About 30 people objected to the scheme, many raising concerns about the design of the new buildings.

Mr Murray said: “When dealing with these kind of proposals there is always concern shown from neighbours. We understand these thoughts are simply in order to protect the integrity of their area and the conservation area as a whole – a conservation area within which I live.

“I believe we have taken these comments on board and made amendments to the scheme which seek to ensure the best scheme is delivered.”