Flats scheme approved despite concerns

COUNCILLORS have given the go-ahead for a new development of flats and offices in Sheffield city centre, despite being recommended to refuse the proposal by planners.

Developers want to turn an empty building on St Mary's Gate roundabout into an eight-storey block of 57 flats and a three-storey block of offices.

The scheme, off Bramall Lane, was refused permission in March 2008, but a new design has now been approved by Sheffield Council's City Centre, South and East Planning Committee. Officers recommended councillors refuse the scheme again because the developers had only offered 90,000 for affordable housing - advising that a 500,000 contribution would be justified.

But Jim Lomas, representing developers SMC Jenkins and Moor, said 90,000 was all they could afford.

"It's better in some respects than a poke in the eye," he added. Mr Lomas said the former Remploy building was a "derelict, defunct and rather visually obnoxious eyesore in the gateway for the city".

The meeting heard other developers had been interested in the site but discussions had stalled.

The committee's chairman, Coun John Hesketh, said: "This is a prominent site which has lain empty for some time.

"When things are running well, I think there can be a case made for demanding a contribution towards affordable housing, but I think in these more difficult times we have to balance competing factors."

After the meeting, Coun Tony Damms - who voted against the plans - told The Star the 90,000 contribution was "derisory".

"We have a shortage of affordable housing across the city, and we're letting this site go for less than a fifth than the district valuer says it's worth," he said.

"It's a sorry affair.

"If we're not careful we'll be selling the family silver for nothing."

- PLANS to build more than 20 flats for over-55's on the site of a former pub in Shiregreen have been approved. The 24 flats will be built on the site of the Sicey Hotel.

Councillors have also given the green light to a development at the old Norton Church Halls.

The two halls will be demolished and replaced with 13 homes.

Meanwhile an application for a three-storey block of flats on Wilkinson Street, Broomhall, has been withdrawn by the developers.

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