Expansion plans for Sheffield's Waitrose approved after campaigners' fight has 'happy ending'

Plans to extend Sheffield’s Waitrose supermarket have been approved – with campaigners who objected securing new measures to restore a nearby river.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 1:49 pm
Alex Barlow from Sheaf and Porter River Trust outside Waitrose in Sheffield City Centre. Picture: Chris Etchells

The proposals to erect a rooftop refrigeration plant and develop delivery facilities at the Ecclesall Road store were controversial when submitted, partly because the closure of sister company John Lewis in Sheffield had just been announced, and shoppers felt it was a ‘slap in the face’.

But the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust also mounted a public campaign after their request to restore part of the River Porter which appears in the store car park, to allow better public access and improve a wildlife habitat as well as retaining green infrastructure, was turned down.

Now the trust has secured agreement from Waitrose and John Lewis to install a new access and viewing area at the exposed Porter Brook at the bottom of Cemetery Road, which will complement planned Connecting Sheffield walking and cycling routes, and £3,000 towards a planned restoration of the habitat of the river.

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Porter Brook river, Sheffield. Picture: Chris Etchells

Simon Ogden, chairman of the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust, said: “Waitrose’s original plan completely ignored the presence of Porter Brook. After a successful campaign involving about 80 people, Waitrose has now agreed to quite a lot of what we are asking for.”

It has also been agreed that waymarkers will now be installed in the surface of the car park showing the course of the ‘hidden’ Porter Brook below and Waitrose will contribute £3,000 to a planned restoration of the habitat of the Porter Brook.

Waitrose has also agreed in principle to allow the emerging Porter Brook Trail to extend through part of their car park subject to a similar agreement from the owner of adjoining Liv student apartments.

Simon added: "It’s come to a happy conclusion. Unlike the city’s other dealings with John Lewis, this particular one has a happy ending.”

Waitrose in Sheffield City Centre. Picture: Chris Etchells

Alex Barlow, one of the Trust’s team who negotiated improvements, said: “We are satisfied that Waitrose have now bought into the Trust’s vision for a more naturalised and accessible river which can also become a positive feature of their site.”

Also approved was external seating for the store’s cafe.

A Waitrose spokesperson said: “We have welcomed the opportunity to work with the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust and are grateful for their support in ensuring the community can enjoy more of the River Porter and engage with its history.”