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Superclub Gatecrasher told to find another site

HOPES of bringing Gatecrasher superclub back to its 'spiritual home' in Sheffield were dashed by councillors last night, after planners said the project would get in the way of city centre regeneration.

Club boss Simon Raine made an impassioned plea to councillors to grant permission for a 5 million venue below the 'cheesegrater' car park on the corner of Charles Street and Arundel Gate.

He said the new site, which already had planning permission for a casino that would stay open until 6am, would be ideal for the club's return to Sheffield, after the old Matilda Street venue burned down in 2007.

Mr Raine told councillors on the city centre, south and east planning board: "It has taken three years to find this site. It is a great location which will complement Sheffield's City of Culture bid.

"More than 14,000 supporters have registered their support for us to return to our spiritual home."

Nearly 3,800 people wrote to Sheffield Council welcoming the proposals, which Mr Raine said would bring back the days when people came from all over the country to visit the club.

Another 11,000 joined a Facebook group site backing the application, which has also been supported by prominent DJs Judge Jules and Trevor Nelson.

Mr Raine said the club's return would provide a great economic boost to the city, and more than 150 jobs, but planning officers told councillors the project would put multi-million pound schemes to regenerate the city centre at risk.

But officer Chris Megson said the 32-storey City Lofts development, 10 metres from the club's proposed entrance, would be hit by the plans. A third of the flats had yet to find tenants.

He said the developers behind offices in the Heart of the City scheme would find it hard to shift the units if the club moved in.

The council received 17 objections to the plans, including letters from Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Theatres Trust, city development agency Creative Sheffield, law firm DLA Piper, and the O2 Academy.

Eight out of nine board members voted to refuse planning permission, but stressed the club would be welcomed if they could find a more appropriate site.

Coun Tim Rippon said: "We have over a number of years been very careful about the regeneration of the city centre and I think we would all agree that up to now we have to it right. I do not accept this application is suitable for this location."

But Coun Peter Price, voting for the plan, said: "This is located under a car park and next to a busy road - it is an ideal site.

"What is the heart of the city plan all about? We are trying to create a vibrant, high quality city centre with great facilities. We need something for everyone."

Chairman John Hesketh said if club bosses worked with planners they could start immediately on the search for a more suitable site.

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