‘Lack of political leadership’ blamed for ‘totally unacceptable’ delay to Sheffield’s local plan

Sheffield Council’s proposal to further delay the new local plan has sparked backlash.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 3:08 pm

News the council is going to delay its Sheffield Plan again until December 2024, a year after a Government set deadline, has given more fuel to fears about the city being less able to defend itself against unwanted developments.

Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of Sheffield Liberal Democrats, said: “It’s totally unacceptable. It’s once again been kicked down the road.

“We have already seen what’s happened in Deepcar where local residents, the community and the planning board all thought it was inappropriate to develop on that land but developers were allowed because of the weakness of our planning policies.

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Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of Sheffield Liberal Democrats, said the latest local plan delay is 'unacceptable'

“Developers are looking at Sheffield as a place to force through inappropriate developments because we have not got our house in order. What on earth have they been doing for the past several years?

“I fear more areas of the city will be developed now regardless of what local planning boards want … It will signal a green light for developers to come to this city thinking they can nibble away at the greenbelt and greenfield and that is a worry across the board.

“To add insult to injury, the council member who is supposedly responsible for this is not in post. That just sums up what is all wrong with the council at the moment.”

Sheffield’s current local plan is outdated and comprises policies from the Unitary Development Plan, from 1998, and the Core Strategy, from 2009.

Sheffield Town Hall

Work on a new plan has been ongoing for around a decade and delayed a number of times.

In recent years, it was promised by 2018 then delayed until 2023.

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At the start of this year, the Government warned councils to update before its deadline of December 2023.

Executive member, Coun Douglas Johnson

Christopher Pincher, housing minister, said local plans were critical to ensure: the right homes were built in the right places, communities are given a say on how their area changes and the economy rebounds strongly following Covid-19.

It is unconfirmed whether the Government will intervene or penalise the council for failing to meet its deadline.

Coun Mohammed said the people of Sheffield would never forgive the council if the Government imposed a plan.

Coun Douglas Johnson, executive member, said the Government is unlikely to intervene because the main cause of this delay was an “impossible” and “arbitrary” increase in housing supply target which saw Sheffield’s additional home goal rise from just under 37,000 to almost 50,000 by 2038.

He said there was scope for interim planning policies which could update certain bits of the plan in the meantime.

He added: “If we had a really tight, effective and up-to-date local plan then it would set out the expectations and give developers less room to wriggle out of their obligations.

“It’s been a continual spiral of a lack of leadership really on being able to drive something through.

“On a national level, the Government has been changing the rules continually bit by bit in favour of developers over the past few years which hasn’t helped … that does make officers’ job very difficult but really it’s down to a lack of political leadership for many years now.”