Historic Sheffield pub where 'modern rules of football were first drawn up' set for demolition following appeal

Campaigners said they feel voiceless after developers won an appeal to demolish a historic football pub they fought to save for several years.

By Molly Williams, Local Democracy Reporter
Tuesday, 14th December 2021, 1:54 pm

The Plough Inn, on Sandygate Road, opposite Hallam FC – the oldest football ground in the world – was built in 1929 but there is evidence the pub exisited in some form since the mid 1600s and it is believed to be where the modern rules of football were first drawn up.

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Community given second chance to save historic Sheffield pub

The vacant building escaped demolition after plans to turn the site into eight new three-bedroom town houses were refused by Sheffield Council last year.

Campaigners have fought to save The Plough, a historic football pub, for several years but developers have now been given the go-ahead to demolish it for houses.

But the developers appealed and a planning inspector recently overturned the decision, allowing the plans to go ahead.

Peter Duff, of the campaign group to save The Plough, said: “Obviously, we’re sad and disappointed that the appeal decision will allow the demolition of The Plough.

“It’s a shame for the local community to lose such a landmark building but it’s also a loss to the city which will see another piece of its heritage disappear.

“The planning inspector’s decision looks to have been pre-determined and ignores much the evidence we submitted.

“We were not that surprised by the decision. The planning process favours developers and community groups like us are at a disadvantage. We do not have resources to pay for consultants and legal advisers to game the system. We were also not helped by Sheffield’s lack of a strategic policy on historic buildings and heritage assets.

“We appreciated the strong community support that our campaign enjoyed but it seems local people don’t have much say in the decisions that affect them.”

What was the planning inspector’s ruling?

The planning inspector’s grounds for siding with the developer included that there is a tilted balance in favour of housing developments because the council cannot meet the government’s five-year deliverable housing supply target.

They also said there were “no adverse impacts, including the loss of the [pub]” and significant housing and economic benefits to the proposals.

The council was also ordered to pay the developer an undisclosed amount as the inspector said refusing the plans was “unreasonable behaviour resulting in unnecessary or wasted expense”.

They added: “It was refused on the basis of local knowledge, general and vague assumptions on the prospect of the public house being brought back into community use, and without any evidence to counter the assessments and conclusions made by the applicant.”

Battle to save The Plough

Ahead of the council’s vote last year there were 205 objections to the plans including from Save Britain’s Heritage, the Campaign for Real Ale and the Crookes and Crosspool Green Party.

Objectors said there was enough support to revive it as a viable pub, demolishing it would be “cultural vandalism” and that it should be celebrated as a historic football site.

At the time, councillor Anne Murphy, chair of the Sheffield Home of Football, said: “The historic value of The Plough pub alone is immeasurable to the residents of Sheffield who care and want to retain as many historic buildings as possible.

“This pub and site is the heart of the home of world football. Other cities would be trying to bring the building back to life and promote it as an asset to the city, not tear it apart.”