Clive Betts said it was wrong that aristocrat Edward Fitzalan-Howard, who lives in a huge castle, should ‘make money for doing nothing, off the hard work of people who have less money than him’.
And he claims he should give the land for free.
WHO IS GETTING THE MONEY?
Sheffield City Council is spending £2.37m to buy out the duke and the Canal and River Trust to create a parcel of land for 900 houses in Attercliffe. The duke owns the majority, according to Land Registry documents.
The authority will use a £4m grant from the government’s Brownfield Housing Fund.
The scheme, Attercliffe Waterside, was proposed 14 years ago but negotiations were ‘complex’ according to a representative of the Norfolk Estate in Sheffield.
But Mr Betts claimed the delays had 'held the project to ransom'.
He added: “If the money was not found this regeneration would not be going ahead.
“He could give this land to the scheme and say ‘I recognise I have done very, very well over the years and I want to put something back’.
“It would cause him no financial hardship but I think the only financial interest he has is his own.”
Mr Betts added: “And it’s all because his ancestors won a battle years ago and were given land from the king.
“It shows the class system is alive and well. It really is wrong that it should still be the case today. If we are going to level up the country, as one of the big landowners he could make a contribution.”
King Richard II made Thomas Mowbray the first Duke of Norfolk in 1397.
WHAT DOES THE DUKE OWN TODAY?
The current incumbent is Edward Fitzalan-Howard, the 18th duke, based in Arundel Castle in Sussex.
Author Guy Shrubshole claims he owned 46,000 acres of land in 2001. And in 2015 he received £449,166 in taxpayer-funded farm subsidies and £259,605 in single area payments.
The duke also owns Framlingham Castle, Bungay Castle, Worksop Manor, Carlton Towers and Norfolk House in London, according to author Nick Hayes.
His centuries-old association with Sheffield can be seen across the city in two Norfolk Arms pubs, Howard Street, Fitzalan Square, Arundel Gate, Norfolk Park and Earl Marshall Road.
The duke has an estate office on St James’ Street near Sheffield Cathedral and owns more than 100 plots of land and buildings in South Yorkshire alone, according to the Land Registry.
He was once prominent locally and was Lord Mayor for two years in the 19th century, Mr Betts said.
He also built the Corn Exchange, which once stood on Sheaf Street, in the 1880s. It is reported that ’no expense was spared’ in giving Sheffield a building to be proud of, with mullioned windows and a ‘great groined roof’.
Mr Betts added: “I wonder if he has ever been to Sheffield? I would be happy to give him a tour to show him how he could help.”
WHAT IS THE DUKE SAYING?
The Star contacted the Norfolk Estate office at Arundel Castle.
Jeremy Robinson, of estate agents Fowler Sandford, is based in the Sheffield office.
He said: “No comment.”
In the 18th century, the 14th duke built a grand country house called ‘The Farm’ on Granville Road.
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When his son inherited in the 1870s his estates produced more than £100,000 gross per annum, the equivalent of £11m today, Sheffield-based researcher David Poole states.
He adds: ‘Over half came from Sheffield, not just from rents but also from mineral rights and the markets, which he owned as lord of the manor until 1899 when he sold them to Sheffield Corporation’.
Today the Farm site is occupied by the City Campus of Sheffield College, but former parkland once adjacent to the mansion, is now Norfolk Heritage Park.
But some are frustrated by the duke’s extensive land holdings in Sheffield - and long term approach.
A Sheffield property expert, who asked not to be named, said: “It’s very hard to get the duke to dispose of land, it can be a real obstacle. You absolutely need him on board.
“You do get frustrated when you see sites that sit there for years and decades with nothing happening. It’s a problem for one individual to have so much land and no interest in developing it. It just gets handed down.”
On the Attercliffe Waterside scheme, as well as buying land, Sheffield City Council is set to pay £760,000 towards the refurbishment of industrial buildings of ‘considerable character,’ including the former Spartan Steel mill on Attercliffe Road.
The duke owns the freehold for the works which closed in 1999. A further £950,000 is needed ‘for the cost of abnormal foundations’.
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The 22-acre plot is bounded by Effingham Road and Woodbourn Road and split by Sheffield and Tinsley Canal.
Land to the south of the canal is owned by the council, and land on both sides of the canal belongs to the duke, with some leased to the Canal and River Trust.
He also owns a plot on Effingham Road which has been cleared but maps show used to be home to Dyson Works and Fitzalan Works, the duke’s family name.
A report to the South Yorkshire mayor’s office says once the council has bought the land it will sell it to developer Citu ‘at a price that is commercially viable’.
This is necessary, it says, because the scheme has stalled due to ‘market failure’.
It will allow Citu to develop out the site, ‘raising residential values in a challenging location for residential viability’ and make the remaining phases ‘commercially viable for the private sector to deliver’.