Film charts Sheffield shops battle

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A new documentary has charted the battle over one of Sheffield’s most controversial planning developments.

The film – released online yesterday – shows hundreds of protesters demonstrating outside Sheffield Town Hall last week over the bid to knock down a block of independent shops on Devonshire Street in the city centre and replace it with flats.

Protest outside Sheffield Town Hall over the Devonshire Street plans

Protest outside Sheffield Town Hall over the Devonshire Street plans

Almost 20,000 objections were lodged against the scheme, but the plans were given the go-ahead by members of Sheffield Council’s planning committee.

Objectors have vowed to appeal the decision.

The Demolition of Devonshire Street film, made by independent Sheffield media team The Three Docuteers, also shows heated scenes inside the town hall when protesters were told by council staff the meeting was full.

The hearing was eventually adjourned so people present for other planning applications could leave to allow more Devonshire Street protesters in.

Logan MacLeod, one of the Sheffield students behind the film, said: “We were in the heart of the whole process and got involved in the whole thing – we got some good footage.

“To have that many people there on a Tuesday afternoon shows how strongly people felt about it and what the shops meant to them.”

During filming, councillors who sit on the planning committee were quizzed after seven of them voted for it to go ahead.

Three voted against it, while one member abstained.

Coun Ibrar Hussain, who voted for it, said decisions had to be made on ‘planning grounds’, or the developer could appeal – but he said councillors ‘understood’ what objectors were saying.

Coun Bob Johnson, who also voted in favour of the scheme, said an appeal by the developer would have cost the council £60,000 to £70,000 and the plans would have then been given the go-ahead anyway.

He said: “If there were any opportunity I could have taken not to have accepted the council officers’ recommendation, I would have.”

Nineteen-year-old Logan, of Dover Road, Hunters Bar, said: “It was eye opening. The protesters and councillors should have had a talk with each other because you could see both sides.”

Meanwhile, council leaders have said they will continue pushing for the council to obtain more local planning powers in devolution.

Coun Julie Dore, council leader, said: “Every opportunity we get before ministers we ask for powers over planning.

“At the moment we’ve got a Government and a planning framework that’s in the interests of the developer rather than the public.”