Changes to Sheffield General Cemetery planning application 'cautiously welcomed'
People living near Sheffield General Cemetery have called for council bossesÂ to meet them to discuss the authority's improvement plans for the site.
Campaign group Save Our Green Open Spaces Sheffield (SOGOSS) said it 'cautiously welcomed' Sheffield Council reducing the number of car parking spaces proposed as part of the application from 14 to four but said it still had concerns over the proposals.
Those living near the site formed SOGOSS when the plans were announced earlier this year and said it wasn't against the improvement plans as a whole but felt works could be carried out 'without disturbance to the peace and tranquillity' of the site.
Eileen Evans, speaking on behalf of the whole group, said: "The car park changes are an encouraging development but we note that the plans will still involve encroachment into the cemetery grounds and the unnecessary felling of perfectly healthy trees.
"Since launching our campaign SOGOS has secured important support from the local community and a network of experts which include the Yorkshire Garden Heritage Trust and environmental and heritage experts.
"We are currently consulting with representatives of disability groups to ensure the proposed developments are meeting the needs of users with protected characteristics, while also preserving and maintaining the unique character of the green space, and managing the need for the further felling of trees and negative impact on the environment and wildlife.
"SOGOS believe that there can be a restored and improved cemetery without disturbance to the peace and tranquillity that a car park would undoubtedly bring, or jeopardise the Heritage Lottery Funding bid the developments depend on, and have recently written to the planning committee requesting a site visit to discuss these issues and alternative solutions in advance of the planning meeting on May 1 and await a reply."
The council said the scheme, which would include conservation works on listed walls and monuments, landscape improvements, new signage and lighting, would lead to the site being removed from Historic England's 'Heritage At Risk' register.
Ms Evans added: "We are aware that the council, in partnership with the Sheffield General Cemetery Trust, are pursuing funding to develop the cemetery, and this is to be welcomed. We are clear however that this shouldn't be at the expense of the current environment, and should not include the tarmacking and the floodlighting of a precious green space, when good viable options are available outside the cemetery itself.
"This is particularly important in an area of the city which will experience a rapid increase in population in the next two years, as new high-rise apartments are opened. We also highlight that this part of the city is blighted by traffic jams, leading to high levels of pollution, and an inefficiently managed parking strategy around Cemetery Road around Stalker Lees areas."
Lisa Firth, Sheffield Council's head of parks and countryside, said: "We have reviewed the feedback and decided to revise our proposals to include only three Blue Badge parking spaces within the cemetery and one space outside the Gatehouse entrance.
“The original car parking proposals responded to needs identified during the project consultation. Many people told us that a lack of parking discouraged them from visiting the park.
“Parts of the park are steep and therefore restrictive for older people and wheelchair users. We have decided that parking for blue badge holders was necessary to ensure that people with a disability would not be discriminated against when it came to visiting the park.
“The proposed car parking provision will be designed to complement the historic setting, bollards will be used to prevent vehicular access into the wider cemetery park."