Mortuary plan raises concerns

St Luke's Hospice in Sheffield
St Luke's Hospice in Sheffield
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PLANS for a £5.2 million extension of St Luke’s Hospice have received the go-ahead – despite concern from neighbours about the close proximity of the mortuary to their garden.

Andre and Jill Spencer, who live on Petworth Drive, Whirlow, immediately behind the hospice, are currently separated by a trellis fence and said they did not want their young children to be able to see bodies being carried in and out of the building.

The couple spoke at a meeting of Sheffield Council’s city centre, south and east planning board, where the application was approved.

Mr Spencer said: “To us, one of the biggest problems is that the mortuary will be on the ground floor. The idea of bodies being brought out where our children might be able to look is upsetting for the psyche. The exit will be facing our property.”

Mr and Mrs Spencer asked for the exit to be moved or for the hours to be restricted to ensure bodies are moved ‘when the children aren’t around’.

They also objected to the design of the building and proposals to prune large trees which screen their home from the hospice.

Other neighbours raised concerns about the hours of construction and asked for it to be limited to weekdays and not after 4.30pm.

But councillors were unsympathetic. The board heard the type of building, with an aluminium roof, involved materials ‘in common use’ and that improved screening was proposed to ensure the Spencers and other neighbours could not see into the hospice site.

Board member Coun Peter Price said: “I can’t see any planning reason for rejection and these types of places are common on council estates and in other parts of the city.

“As long as a vehicle can get close enough to the mortuary door, I can’t see a problem.”

Coun Steve Wilson added: “I’d like St Luke’s to work with local people to minimise disruption as much as possible.”

The plans involve expanding St Luke’s to provide an extra 11 beds to add to the 20 already there.

The hospice is to be completely refurbished and the two-storey extension will be built on the site of Sykes House.

Alex Pettifer, chairman of the hospice’s board of trustees, said: “Whatever it takes, we will work with residents to resolve their concerns.”

Mr Pettifer added the hospice would not be starting building work until late next June.