Sheffield council’s ‘biased’ decision

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A SHEFFIELD property developer has criticised council bosses for rejecting a project to build 387 new homes worth £50 million and which would have created 80 new jobs during construction.

Gleeson Homes said it would appeal and accused council planners of wanting the firm to build ‘1960s council houses’ instead of a range of high quality designs.

The company claims council officials gave a ‘biased’ presentation against its application at a planning board meeting and preferential treatment to separate plans for 200 homes by a consortium involving the council.

Gleeson’s proposals involved the old Parson Cross college site off Remington Road and land between Monteney Road and Morrall Road.

During the planning board meeting, Kate Mansell, council planning officer, the ‘design quality’ was insufficient.

Councillors said new houses were needed, but rejected the proposals and called on Gleeson to redesign the plans.

Separate schemes for 142 homes off Falstaff Road, Parson Cross, and 47 houses on Longley Avenue West, Shirecliffe, were approved. The schemes are to be developed by the Sheffield Housing Company - a consortium involving the council and private firms.

Gleeson’s spokesman said: “We always consult with local people to see what they want.

“The planners want us to build regimented boxes but we refuse to lower our standards to produce 1960s council houses. Why shouldn’t people in Parson Cross have homes of higher quality and design?

“Our plans were for £50 million of investment and would create 80 construction jobs.”

The Gleeson spokesman added: “At the committee meeting, planners misrepresented our development by displaying black and white early drawings.

“The presentation given to the subsequent scheme involving the council had its displays in colour. There was considerable bias.”

Les Sturch, Sheffield Council’s director of development services, said: “Officers have spent months negotiating with Gleeson to develop a scheme that relates more appropriately to the context of the site and achieves a higher design quality.

“Unfortunately, Gleeson Homes have been resistant to changing their house designs to respond to the local character. The committee’s decision is consistent with national and local planning policy.”