Residents’ fears for Sheffield street shopping scene

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AN empty shop unit in Sheffield’s Ecclesall Road is set to be transformed into a restaurant despite objections from residents.

Sheffield Council’s city centre, south and east planning committee approved an application from CadenzaVM Architecture and Design for a change of use to allow a new eatery to open in the busy street.

The unit sits between Pizza Express and Nando’s restaurants and was originally built for retail purposes, but it has remained empty since the building was completed 18 months ago.

People who live nearby voiced their opposition to the proposal, believing another diner in an already competitive eating out market poses a threat to the area’s shopping scene. The change of use would lead to the number of retail premises which occupy the street front to drop from 53 per cent to 46 per cent.

Michael West, of Walton Road, which sits behind the units, said: “We believe this will lead to an unacceptable concentration of restaurants in that stretch. The district shopping centre policy was to preserve the mix of retail offerings. We believe that restaurants, while important in the evening, may deter the attraction to Ecclesall Road during the day.”

Chris Heeley, planning officer for Sheffield Council, said: “We have grappled with this and we feel we have to support it as it would be a very weak case on appeal.”

Coun Jayne Dunn, who represents Broomhill and sits on the committee, said: “There is an empty restaurant unit next to Nonna’s – why can’t it go there? I feel uncomfortable about it but it’s more personal for me.”

Permission was granted with two votes against.