Councillors insist on being “squeaky clean” after surprise at planning board

Sheffield councillors refused to make a decision on a planning application after finding out the public consultation hadn’t yet finished.

By Lucy Ashton
Thursday, 14th March 2019, 9:14 am
Updated Thursday, 14th March 2019, 9:18 am
Gilder Banner Cross car showroom, Ecclesall Road South.
Gilder Banner Cross car showroom, Ecclesall Road South.

Officers advised the planning board that it should press ahead and make a decision about a scheme to convert the former Gilders car showroom off Ecclesall Road South.

But councillors were surprised and unhappy when they found out the consultation wasn’t due to finish until two days after the meeting.

The scheme had received 34 objections but a problem with the council’s website meant people couldn’t access its planning portal so the deadline to comment was extended.

But then officers said the board should make a decision and if there were any objections afterwards, officers and the chairman of the committee could discuss them.

The planning board said this was an unprecedented request and it would not be “open and transparent” if they made a decision before people had chance to object.

Coun Peter Rippon, who co-chairs the committee, was surprised by the officers’ suggestion.

He said: “It is unprecedented for this to be put forward to the committee before the consultation period ends. I had a briefing with officers last week and a site visit and this was never mentioned.”

Officers said developers wanted the decision quickly but the board deferred it.

Coun Andy Sangar said: “This is the first time I have ever heard this and I am very concerned there’s a possibility there will be representations which we don’t consider before making a judgement.

“Members would feel much more comfortable if this was deferred for three weeks to the next meeting when we have got to the end of the consultation and we have all the comments. Three weeks is not going to be critical to this scheme.”

Coun Peter Price said: “We need to be fair and squeaky clean. I apologise to members of the public who turned up today but we need to be open and transparent with every decision we make.”

Developers want to convert the site into offices, eight homes, a gym and car parking.

The vacant two-storey showroom will be converted into two commercial units and a gym. An old workshop building will include car parking at the ground level, office space at the first floor and a rooftop car park. These will be accessed from Banner Cross Drive.

The area which currently has an upper, external car park, will be redeveloped with eight, four-bedroomed townhouses accessed via an extension of Talmont Road.