Much-loved community club in Sheffield set for demolition despite hundreds of objections

Local residents have been campaigning against the closure of Holme Lea
Local residents have been campaigning against the closure of Holme Lea
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Controversial plans to knock down a popular Sheffield club so new apartments can be built are set to be given the go-ahead by councillors.

Sheffield Council planners have recommended a contentious scheme to demolish Holme Lea Club goes ahead - despite more than 500 local residents objecting to the idea.

The Holme Lea club

The Holme Lea club

Campaigners have said the demolition of the pub - which is the former home of Handsworth Working Men's Club - would 'rip the soul' out of the community it serves.

But a council report going to a planning meeting next Tuesday said: "It is considered that the club’s closure and the subsequent loss of the facilities it provides is not a sufficient reason to justify the refusal of this application."

Applicant Max Design Consultancy on behalf of applicant Spandrel Homes wants to knock down the existing building and replace it with a three-storey block of 27 residential apartments.

A council planning report going to next week's meeting noted more than 500 people are opposing the plan, with local councillors and MP Clive Betts also against it.

The report said the objections include residents questioning whether the council is 'hellbent on turning Handsworth into an uncaring concrete jungle' and highlighting the area losing its community facilities.

It said: "Pubs have already been lost and pub chains are increasing the rent/leases to other public houses making them unviable. How long will it be before other pubs are demolished and turned into flats?"

Concerns have also been raised about the extra traffic that will be generated by the new homes.

But the report stated: "The loss of the existing club and the impact that this will have on the local community is a concern that many objections discuss.

"It is stated that the Holme Lea offers a wide range of different activities and facilities for the community and wider public.

"The objections received suggest that there is a demand for the facility however the application submission contradicts this by stating that the club is currently commercially unviable.

"Whilst there is substantial support for the retention of the Holme Lea, and the building provides a variety of functions, the closure or sale of the pub is a commercial decision to be taken by the owner.

"This could occur at any point and all facilities would be lost, regardless of whether planning permission has been granted for a new use or not.

"With this in mind, it is possible for local community organisations to nominate land or a building as an Asset of Community Value which, if registered, gives those communities the time to put together a bid to buy the asset if it comes up for sale. It is confirmed that there is no such nomination in relation to this building at the time of writing this report."

It added: "The proposed development does not propose replacement or equivalent facilities so any functions currently provided at the club will be lost from the site. However, an audit of the area suggests that there are buildings that offer similar licenced and/or function facilities."

The report said 'although it is regrettable that the proposed development would result in the loss of what appears to be a well-used club and facility', the proposals did not appear to contradict planning policies in relation the loss of a community amenity.

If given the go-ahead, the council will be paid £130,325 by the developers to finance new affordable housing.