The policy and politics of city's heritage

J Robin Hughes

Friday, 21st December 2018, 5:36 am
Updated Friday, 21st December 2018, 5:48 am
A map showing the site of planned homes in Wincobank, which developer Investates Limited claims shows they would not fall on the path of a historic Roman Ridge in the area

Towngate Road, Worrall, Sheffield, S35

I have to take issue with both CounMohammed and Coun Scott regarding their comments on the application to build 22 houses on the line of Sheffield's famous 'Roman Ridge' at Wincobank.

The National Planning Policy Framework creates a presumption in favour of 'sustainable development' when the Local Plan is out of date, but there are important exceptions.

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First, it has to be the local policies most important to deciding whether to grant permission that are out of date, but this proposal will be decided not on housing policy, (which could be considered out of date), but on heritage policy.

Second, the presumption does not apply if other policies in the Framework provide a reason for refusal, and the Framework says that harm to a Scheduled Ancient Monument such as this should be 'wholly exceptional'.

Finally, 'sustainable' is defined as meeting three objectives, one of which is to protect and enhance, (amongst other things), the historic environment '“ so a development that harms heritage cannot be 'sustainable' anyway. There is every reason to refuse this proposal, as the Council did in 2012, (against officer advice), in which they were supported by a Planning Inspector.

Planning law and policy constrain developers when they propose harm to heritage, but planning decisions too often do not.

The council has the powers to protect historic structures, and needs to make sure that these are used consistently. When the council is the developer, as they are for the Heart of the City 2, they should lead by example and bring forward proposals that make the most of irreplaceable historic buildings, such as those in Pinstone Street.

These too are a unique, precious part of our city's great heritage.

It remains to be seen whether the destruction proposed by the council will be refused by their own planning committee.

That really would demonstrate that this is a city that takes its heritage seriously.