Campaigners step up fight in battle to save Sheffield's former Coroner's Court

Campaigners facing a race against time to prevent Sheffield's former Coroner's Court from being demolished have urged council bosses to impose legislation that would buy them some more time.

The former Sheffield Coroner's Court.
The former Sheffield Coroner's Court.

Coun Douglas Johnson, Kelham Island Community Alliance and other protesters have called for an Article 4 Direction to be imposed on the Nursery Street site, which restricts the scope of permitted development rights in relation to a particular site.

The notice would allow campaigners six months to prove the building was of enough importance to be listed by Historic England but they face a race against time with Sheffield Counicl due to decide on a demolition notice by August 20.

Campaigners have also voiced concerns that the notice comes as the council finalises its plans to make the area around the Nursery Street site a conservation area.

Coun Douglas Johnson said: "An Article 4 Direction could help by giving some protection until the Conservation Area has been decided. It would mean that developers would have to apply for planning permission if they want to demolish historic buildings. Each case could then be considered on its own merits.

“The Old Coroner’s Court is an attractive but unlisted historic building. It would be very sad to see it destroyed for a small commercial gain to a developer. It would also damage the long-term regeneration of the area.”

The former Coroner's Court was built in 1913 by the first city architect F E P Edwards and was a state-of-the-art facility. It included the court, mortuary, post-mortem rooms, viewing chapel, witnesses' waiting rooms and police accommodation together with a yard and stabling.

Bomb damage during the Second World War led to a remodelling in the 1950s and youth court facilities were added to the site.

Ben McGarry, chairman of Kelham Island Community Alliance, said: "Heritage buildings are a vital part of Kelham Island and the surrounding area. They don’t have to be listed buildings to make up an important and unique part of the character of the area.

"The challenge for Kelham Island is to make sure it doesn’t lose what is irreplaceable and the same goes for the Old Coroner’s Court in its setting opposite Nursery St Pocket Park."

George Johnston, of Firestone Developments, said: "I bought the building with outline planning consent to cut the building in half and put a new block behind it and join them together.

"But it wouldn't work and it's not a viable scheme so the architect came up with a cost-effective alternative. I agree that the existing building is nice but it is in disrepair and is unoccupied and I feel that a new block of flats will help redevelop the area."