APPLAUSE rang out as councillors rejected plans for a new lap dancing bar in Sheffield city centre - but there are fears the decision could be overturned on appeal.
Controversial proposals to transform Steelhouse in West Street into a strip club were thrown out by Sheffield Council’s South and East Area planning committee following planning officers’ recommendation to turn it down.
The application - submitted by architects Barrett and Barrett - attracted 166 objections from residents, community groups, Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield and Sheffield Cathedral.
Many believed the introduction of a sexual entertainment venue complete with poles and private dancing booths would put the safety of women at risk.
An army of protesters assembled outside Sheffield Town Hall prior to the meeting, where Maureen Storey of Sheffield’s domestic abuse service made an impassioned speech.
She said: “This might get branded as extremism but we are talking about a club which will contribute to a culture where women are treated as sexual objects. It is about personal safety for women.”
Peter Sephton, chairman of Sheffield City Centre Residents’ Action Group, said: “This club would reduce the public perception of Sheffield. It would exploit women in a city with over 25,000 female students.”
Planning officers stressed the recommendation to refuse permission was based on opening hours and the impact on the area - not on moral grounds - and some members of the committee were unconvinced the argument will stand up if developers appeal.
The venue’s proposed opening hours, and its location within close range of Sheffield City Hall, a tram stop and residential buildings, were highlighted as cause for concern, along with the threat its blacked-out windows posed to the vitality of the area.
Coun Jayne Dunn said: “I’m really proud of the council’s vision for a dynamic and safe city centre, especially now when we are encouraging more people to live in it.”
The public clapped and cheered at the meeting as a six to one majority voted to refuse the application.
But Coun Peter Price, who voted for the strip club to go ahead, said: “I think this is an over-reaction and people are using their own moral views of the world. I think we’d struggle to win an appeal.”