Editor: Raising a cheer rather than razing past to the ground

Historical building saved, community voice heard and new pub on the way… who would have thought it?

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 6:39 am
Unexploded bomb and bomb damage, adjacent to Rare and Racy on Devonshire Street, 12 Dec 1940. Pic: Picture Sheffield (Sheffield Local Studies Library): s01323

We are all so used to complaints about the wrong decisions being taken that praise must also be given when common sense is applied.

There were a couple of decisions taken at a planning meeting of Sheffield City Council yesterday which I suspect will lift your hearts.

The most prominent was councillors kicking out plans to demolish the row of historic shops which once included the beloved famous Rare & Racy book shop. It wasn’t a unanimous vote but the victory clearly reflected public opinion. The other alternative might not have been as extreme as the wartime picture on this page, but it would have signalled the end of an era. There had been more than 60 written objections to the plans, including from Hallamshire Historic Buildings and the residents’ association for the city centre. Surely they are voices which should be heard as we shape the Sheffield of the future? As members of both groups have both said to me many times, and me to you, preserving the past does not need to come at a cost to the future. It is possible to make both work hand in hand while building a powerful economic and attractive city centre. In fact, it is vital.

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Perhaps our councillors remember what happened when planning permission was granted in 2015 to demolish the buildings and replace them. At that stage a total of 20,000 people objected and there were demonstrations outside the Town Hall.

Ah, you’ve got to love the city that does protest so well and isn’t it nice when people power gets political support.

Then there’s the kitchen and bathroom store on Abbeydale Road which looks set to be transformed into a pub. Isn’t that a refreshing switch? We are normally writing about drinking holes being closed rather than the other way round. Here’s to decisions which take us by surprise in a good way and the community having a say, as well as backing new businesses when they appear. There is little point in talking about pubs as great places to bring our neighbourhoods together if we don’t actually spend in them. Here’s to a positive Sheffield, changing and growing but uniquely us.