Inquiry to decide on £35m Sheffield flats proposal

A public inquiry will determine whether a £35 million development of apartments, shops and student flats should be built on Ecclesall Road.

Thursday, 12th May 2016, 11:18 am
Updated Thursday, 12th May 2016, 11:21 am
View from Ecclesall Road

Last year Sheffield Council refused to give the project, planned for the site of the old Vauxhall showroom between Summerfield Street and Pear Street, the go-ahead.

Councillors followed the recommendations of officers - namely that the scheme would be too big for the surrounding area, an d that it could harm the prospect of redeveloping neighbouring land, currently used as a car wash.

But the developer, Hallminster, lodged an appeal - and the Government’s Planning Inspectorate has agreed to the firm’s request for an inquiry, which could last up to three days.

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The inquiry route was opposed by the council, which told the inspectorate it was a ‘totally inappropriate forum’ for deciding the appeal.

However, approving the public hearing, case officer Kerr Brown said in a letter to the council: “Given the scale of the proposals, for a major mixed-use scheme, our view is that in all probability the issues to consider are sufficiently complex to allow the inspector to fully explore all matters before coming to his or her decision.”

A deadline of June 1 has been set for interested parties to make their views known on the proposals.

It is understood the hearing could take place late this year, or even early next year.

Inquiries can prove an expensive process. Inspectors, or the secretary of state, can make an award of costs to either party in an appeal, which can run into many thousands of pounds.

Hallminster proposed building four blocks, one 12 storeys high, offering more than 2,000 sq m of retail space, 130 residential apartments and accommodation for more than 200 students.

Last year officers said they recognised the ‘quality of the individual elements of the development’ and the ‘significant benefits’ it would bring, but added they thought the 12-storey block was ‘completely out of scale’.

Almost 20 objections were received, many from people calling for the proposals to be scaled down.

One resident said the designs had been taken ‘a step too far’.

Dan Simpson, of Hallminster, previously said the firm had been ‘left with no option but to appeal’.

“We want to invest in Sheffield, but we fear we are being forced to turn to cities such as Manchester and Leeds, which are more receptive to developers,” he said.

Three hundred jobs would be created during construction, with more than 100 at the completed site, the company said.