Sheffield city centre office tower block set to be approved despite 125 objections

A new Sheffield city centre tower block which prompted 125 objections from residents and heritage groups could be approved next week.

Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 2:30 pm

Developers Grantside want to demolish buildings at 39-43 Charles Street and 186-194 Norfolk Street, including a popular yoga studio, and erect a seven storey block.

The original 10 storey design was reduced following negotiations and the grade A offices would be a net zero carbon building.

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Berona House residents Richard and Ann Walton and Stuart Bywater say their apartments will be overshadowed by the office block

Why are heritage groups objecting?

The site faces St Paul’s Parade, the Peace Gardens and Pinstone Street and heritage groups are concerned the scheme’s scale, mass and appearance will harm the city centre conservation area.

Heritage England believes the ‘jarring and disjointed’ design would dominate a number of important local views, fails to compliment the area’s rich heritage and is unsympathetic to local character and history.

The Conservation Advisory Group says the block bounded by Charles Street, Norfolk Street and the Peace Gardens dates back to the 19th century its culminating feature is the Town Hall. They say a seven storey block would adversely affect this.

How the original 10 storey tower would look on Charles Street. The design has since been reduced to seven storeys (image: Grantside)

Hallamshire Historic Buildings considers the design and height is unsympathetic and would harm the city centre conservation area and setting of nearby listed buildings.

It argues the Grade I listed Town Hall is intended to be the dominant feature and the scale and proportion of the existing buildings preserves its historic setting.

Why are city centre residents concerned?

The 125 objections include 18 from residents within the same block as the development, Paul Blomfield MP, City ward councillors Martin Phipps, Douglas Johnson and Ruth Mersereau and residents association ChangingSheff.

Residents, particularly those in Berona House, say the ‘oppressive and overbearing’ scheme would seriously impact on their wellbeing.

They say up to 90 per cent of their light would be lost as the building is only 10m from the rear of St Paul’s Chambers. A shared courtyard would be overshadowed and there would be a loss of privacy as office windows overlook homes.

There are objections about the loss of skyline views and that the ‘poor modern design’ is out of keeping with historic buildings. Residents also say there is no need for more office space as more people are working from home.

Will councillors approve the scheme?

Despite all the objections, planning officers are advising councillors to approve the scheme.

They say: “There can be no doubt that the design of the building will be highly sustainable, helping to support employment and economic growth and the regeneration of the city centre.

“There is, of course, a doubt about the future demand for office accommodation in the city centre in the light of the pandemic and increased home working.

“However, there is no convincing evidence to counter the applicant’s expert view that there is a need in the longer term for smaller scale high quality office accommodation in the city centre despite the pandemic.”

They admit there would be a harmful impact on some residents but say the overall benefits outweigh any harm.

Councillors will make a decision on Tuesday, January 18.