Campaigners fighting to save independent shops in Sheffield from being knocked down have today launched a fundraising bid for their legal challenge.
Protests were held outside Sheffield Town Hall in March as councillors agreed proposals to demolish a row of shops on Devonshire Street so apartments, a restaurant and a shop can be built.
Almost 20,000 people objected and a petition signed by 18,000 was the biggest the council has ever received.
Now campaigners have launched an online crowdfunding campaign to raise £15,000 by the end of June which they hope will pay for the first stage of legal costs in securing a judicial review.
Petition organiser and Sheffield poet Jonathan Butcher said: “It’s a lot of money to raise but with more than 20,000 people on the petition I think we can do it.
“Our hope is if the buildings can be protected the owners might move on to look for a more lucrative investment and that could mean the businesses in these buildings are saved too.”
Planning officers said weight which could be given to the buildings’ conservation was ‘limited’ and the plans from their owner Primesite would have a ‘relatively positive impact’ on the area. The buildings have been said to be in ‘disrepair’.
Heritage campaigner Nick Roscoe said a legal challenge would argue that planning laws protecting heritage assets could have been used to save the buildings - and in turn businesses, including book shop Rare and Racy.
He said: “These buildings, could, and should, be saved. They are the oldest surviving shops in the city centre and part of an important group of historic buildings.”
Sheffield’s creative community is backing the campaign.
More than 40 artists and bands – including Hey Sholay and the Everly Pregnant Brothers – have donated tracks for a digital album, an auction is to sell off donated art and a series of fundraising concerts is being arranged.
Visit www.savedevstreet.org.uk for full details.