‘Rabbit hutch’ flats approved at Sheffield church

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PLANS to convert a disused Sheffield church into student flats branded ‘rabbit hutches’ have been approved despite opposition from neighbouring residents.

There were cries of ‘shame’ as Sheffield Council’s city centre, south and east planning board approved the scheme for Grade II-listed Crookes Valley Methodist Church.

The conversion is to involve dividing the church, which has been derelict for 15 years, to have 19 ‘cluster flats’ on five floors, which would accommodate 98 students.

Leading the objections was Ann Daw, an architect who lives in Crookesmoor.

She said: “The density of development will result in low ceilings, crowded kitchens and little daylight. There are too many floors. Some rooms will not have a window.”

Stuart Astill, of Harcourt Community Action Group, representing surrounding residents, added: “The plan is to sell the 98 bedrooms to different owners - which will make it very difficult to protect the building in future.”

Broomhill Lib Dem councillor Paul Scriven said: “The council has a planning policy - CS41 - that only 20 per cent of properties in an area should be houses of multiple occupation. Crookesmoor currently has 47 per cent and these plans would go in the opposite direction.”

He added: “This plan is the equivalent of rabbit hutching human beings.”

But Andy Watts, consultant for developer Northern Eye Properties, said: “These will be bespoke properties for overseas and mature students with hotel-standard accommodation which complies with guidelines.”

Labour councillors, who have the majority on the committee, voted in favour of the plans to prevent the listed building falling further into disrepair.

The three Lib Dems opposed the scheme because of its ‘scale and impact on the community’.