Sheffield campaigners say it’s ‘time to work together’ as Waitrose submit controversial plans

Campaigners have welcomed Waitrose's seemingly softened approach to the objections to its proposal to build delivery facilities in Sheffield, saying that now is the time to work together for better solutions.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 8:08 am

One of the trustees from Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust, Alex Barlow said it was "certainly an improvement" when the popular supermarket chain said they were open to discussions with the campaign group about how they might work together.

He said: "Sheffield was founded on its rivers - the whole name is derived from the River Sheaf and yet too little of those rivers are really open in an apparent view for the general public.

"Our mission is to change that, which is to make the river much more of a visual aspect for both the people of Sheffield and also the opportunity for the wildlife in the river."

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Alex Barlow from Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust outside Waitrose in Sheffield City Centre. Picture: Chris Etchells

Waitrose, with John Lewis Partnership, have applied for a planning permission to erect a rooftop refrigeration plant and develop delivery facilities at its store on Ecclesall Road.

But the proposal received massive backlash from the residents and campaigners, as it would involve tearing down the mature trees and shrubs around a small exposed section of the Porter River.

This would also run contrary to Connecting Sheffield s proposal that aims at improving pedestrian and cycle access in the Cemetery Road area.

It was also deemed to be a 'huge slap in the face' for Sheffield, after John Lewis' announcement to permanently close its department store, leaving 299 jobs at risk.

Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust said said the supermarket chain would create an ‘e-Commerce depot’ at its store using a small car park on Cemetery Road, which they own and is used by their own vehicles. Picture by Chris Etchells

Following pressure from the campaigners and residents, Waitrose responded that the trees and planting in the area will be retained and create more public space to offer a better view of the river.

Mr Barlow added: "In their original proposal, it showed the lowest cost option to stop people falling into the river and claiming it would allow more lighting technically is not in any way an enhancement.

"What we'd like to see is the area enhanced with the opportunity for people to interact with the river.

"We are also looking at at least two opportunities for light wells within the Waitrose car park and the walking section.

The campaigners on a Porter survey last weekend. Picture by Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust.

"So they do have an opportunity to have a positive PR so just engage with us and come up with an agreement."

The campaigners on a Porter survey last weekend. Picture by Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.