'Moratorium needed on new student flats in Sheffield city centre'

Student flats under construction on Trippet Lane in Sheffield city centre last year
Student flats under construction on Trippet Lane in Sheffield city centre last year
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A moratorium on new student flats in Sheffield city centre has been demanded, with calls for thousands of larger apartments to be built there instead.

The proposals are among wide-ranging plans drawn up by city centre residents to breathe new life into the heart of Sheffield amid turbulent times for the nation's high streets.

The proposed PLATFORM_ development beside Decathlon, which would include two and three-bedroom flats, is an example of the type of apartment blocks SCCRAG wants to see more of in the city centre

The proposed PLATFORM_ development beside Decathlon, which would include two and three-bedroom flats, is an example of the type of apartment blocks SCCRAG wants to see more of in the city centre

Sheffield City Centre Residents Action Group (SCCRAG) claims there are already enough student blocks in the area, many of which have been built or secured planning permission in recent months and years.

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The organisation believes plans for any more should be put on hold so the focus can shift to providing larger accommodation which will attract more young professionals, families and retirees, making the area more vibrant and providing a boon to local businesses.

It has set Sheffield Council a target of creating enough new two, three and four-bedroom apartments over the next decade to house 10,000 additional city centre inhabitants - a 50 per cent increase on the 20,000 people the group estimates currently reside there.

SCCRAG chairman Peter Sephton said: "We believe there are enough student-only blocks and we need more larger properties to appeal to families, young professionals and retirees.

SCCRAG chairman Peter Sephton has accused Sheffield Council of having 'no understanding' of city centre living

SCCRAG chairman Peter Sephton has accused Sheffield Council of having 'no understanding' of city centre living

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"Adding 50 per cent to today's city centre population will bring a vibrant addition to overcome the challenges bricks and mortar retailing is facing. It will bring more spending power with more people working around the city and socialising there, supporting more restaurants, cafés and service businesses.

"It could be the stimulus that will galvanise the city centre into a new kind of exciting destination."

The group opposes more student flats because it says the mass exodus each summer and over Christmas is hugely detrimental to city centre businesses.

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It also points out that student blocks are exempt from council tax and although local authorities are currently compensated by central government for this loss - estimated by SCCRAG at £12.25m in Sheffield - it is not known what will happen when funding arrangements change in 2020.

Councillor Jack Scott, cabinet member for transport and development, said: "The council is currently investigating the student accommodation issue and we will be looking to publish our initial findings, evidence and plans later in the year.

"The levels of overall growth in the city centre will be one of the issues that will be included in the options consultation on city growth in due course."

SCCRAG has demanded a meeting with council leader Julie Dore to discuss its vision for the city centre, which it claims could help attract much-needed investment following the setback over Channel 4's new headquarters.

As well as additional larger apartments, it is calling for a more pedestrian friendly layout, extra multi-storey car parks and new public art to liven up the city centre.

The group has accused the council of having 'no understanding' of city centre living and claims there should be a cabinet member with a portfolio dedicated to its development.

It hailed proposals by PLATFORM_ for up to 350 apartments, ranging from studio flats to three-bedroom homes, across two blocks beside Decathlon as the sort of new development it wants to see more of in the city centre.