Frustration as 15-year plan for 700 Sheffield homes drags on
A plan for 700 much-needed homes in an up-and-coming area of Sheffield has been criticised over a lack of transparency and long delays.
Sheffield MP Clive Betts has hit out at progress on Attercliffe Waterside, a 22-acre brownfield project that would ease the city’s housing crisis.
Re-launched in March last year, the plot off Woodbourn Road quickly attracted nine expressions of interest from developers. A winner was due to be announced in July but was delayed without explanation.
A year on, and Sheffield City Council has revealed the ‘preferred bidder’ is Leeds developer Citu - but only after being contacted by The Star.
In a statement, Citu boss Chris Thompson said he aimed to submit a planning application early next year but declined to explain the vision that won over councillors.
Mr Betts said Attercliffe Waterside had the potential to be the ‘next Kelham Island’ and the area was on the up due to huge schemes such as the Olympic Legacy Park and the Advanced Manufacturing Park.
But he was frustrated that big questions remained and there was no completion date in sight.
He added: “I’m frustrated at how long it has taken. I’ve had many promises about progress and when work is going to start. At this rate the first brick won’t be laid until the end of 2021.
“And there are few details, I presume Citu is funding it but don’t know. I’ve asked for briefings but it’s all been so general and it has taken far too long.”
Mr Betts said he also wanted to know how much social housing would be included.
“I’ve seen nothing at all. I don’t think that’s resolved. I will speak out against any scheme that doesn’t have it. I’m happy to have executive housing but it needs to have something for everyone.”
Attercliffe Waterside has been talked about for 15 years and was due to go on the market in 2008 but fell victim to the financial crash.
Mr Betts added: “We’re starting to see new hi-tech businesses in the area and it has more potential than 12 years ago. But that means the disappointment is greater.”
The plot includes landed owned by Sheffield City Council, the Canal & River Trust and Norfolk Estates.
It spans the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal and is bounded by Worthing, Woodbourn, Staniforth and Attercliffe roads. It has Supertram links to the city centre and was marketed as ‘one of the most exciting development opportunities in the North of England’.
Coun Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for business, said Citu gave ‘comprehensive information’ in support of its bid. Bosses were ‘quite clear’ they had the funding and the firm was chosen, in part, due to its expertise in low carbon homes. It is also behind the 52-home Little Kelham scheme in Sheffield.
As preferred bidder, it has a six-month period giving it time for reclamation surveys and to prepare a planning application, he added.
“It’s a big site and Citu has a lot of work to do at its own expense, especially post-Covid when we need good quality space indoors and outdoors.
“It’s important they can deliver a viable and sustainable scheme but they come with a proven track record in Sheffield and Leeds.”
There was no requirement to provide affordable housing due to low land values but it was the company’s aspiration, he added.
He added: “I have not picked up the frustration from Clive. It can take months of negotiations and before they are concluded there is little to say. And we have to consult with two other landlords. But he has been briefed.”
In a statement Citu managing director Chris Thompson said: ‘We’re excited to be working with partners in Sheffield to realise the vision for this site at Attercliffe Waterside.
‘We’ve long been committed to the city through our Little Kelham development, a growing community of residents and independent businesses which forms a central part of the ongoing regeneration of Kelham Island.
‘We’re keen to bring our knowledge and experience to the Attercliffe Waterside project and currently are developing early plans for the area.”
Businessman David Slater, who has property interests in the area and is chair of Attercliffe Action Group, said: “This news is most welcome. Citu has a proven track record in regeneration and will bring their brand into a much-loved but long neglected part of Sheffield
“Attercliffe district will once again become a place to be. What’s important is that work begins straight away and that Attercliffe Waterside is a vibrant residential district at the heart of a gateway strategy that links Meadowhall to the city centre.”