The Park Hill permit zone was proposed in response to complaints by residents on Norfolk Road, a large street behind the Midland train station.
Many commuters, holiday-goers travelling by train and other visitors from outside the neighbourhood were taking advantage of free residential parking there to avoid high prices in city centre car parks, according to residents.
But what started out as an idea to tackle specific nuisance on this road escalated to a sprawling “one size fits all” scheme covering a huge area affecting multiple wards in the south east of the city, despite the vast majority saying its not wanted or even needed.
Shortly after receiving a notice from the council informing them of the plan, David Cobley, who lives on a street just a short walk from Norfolk Road, formed a campaign group to take action.
“In a nutshell, it’s been imposed without any initial consultation, the residents had no input in the design,” Mr Cobley said. “There are various areas which don’t have a problem with parking and in our view will not have a problem with parking.
“There are umpteen other reasons, not least the economics of the costs involved both for individual families and for the city as a whole.
"There has to be, surely, some other way to conclude the problem certain roads have. That’s up to the council."
Together they printed thousands of leaflets and knocked on doors across the area to inform others – some of whom were unaware a scheme had even been proposed – and address misunderstanding such as that buying a parking permit will guarantee a space.
Now thousands upon thousands of people have objected via online and paper petitions.
The group was told their efforts sparked the biggest consultation response to a scheme like this the council had ever seen and almost all respondents rejected it.
Despite growing objections against the proposal, it is still going ahead as things stand.
Mr Cobley said the council must be “mad as hatters” and warned the upset and anger felt by the community could sway voters in the upcoming local elections on May 5 in which Labour councillor Terry Fox, leader of the council, is up for re-election in Manor Castle – the ward most affected by the scheme.
He said: “We as a group of vehement objectors on what is a very emotive subject would say to the council that you need to start to listen to your electorate, and that is who we are coming up to the May elections. You have to listen, please.”
Despite a thousands-strong resistance and reassurance from councillors that nothing will be imposed against their wishes, residents fear they will be ignored as others have been in the past.
Sandra France, an affected resident, said: “I just hope they listen to us and they have learned from the tree felling scandal. We had nine trees chopped down on this road and most of them shouldn’t have been.
“It was terrible what happened with the trees, how they treated the residents then. I just hope they have learned and they don’t impose things like this on their constituents. I’ll never forgive them for that.”
Campaigners’ highlighted “umpteen” negative consequences of having the zone including: unaffordable prices for permits especially amid the cost of living crisis, creating parking problems where there are none, knock-on mental health effects of people being unable to accommodate visitors and neighbours fighting each other for spaces because there will be more houses – with potential need for multiple spaces – than parking bays.
Residents said family and friends, carers, business owners, students, tradespeople, visitors to the city centre, workers at the nearby schools and many others will be affected as well as those living on the roads.
Market value and interest in affected houses would decrease, they were told by estate agents, and there is concern that permit prices would keep jumping higher year after year.
Designs for double yellow and white lines, parking metres and bays outside homes will make residential streets look like car parks, Ms France warned.
Mr Cobley said when the scheme was first being drawn up they were told it would not be huge because it would be “too unwieldy” and designed by residents but the reality has been the opposite.
As well as fears for the future if the plan was implemented, residents said they were concerned by how the process had been handled so far and said it had generally been poorly thought through.
They found typos in the council’s notice informing households and inconsistent consultation dates.
Questions were also raised about why the council is keen to spend money on such a large scheme the majority are strongly against. Estimates are that it could cost millions in taxpayer money and Freedom of Information requests have been submitted to scrutinise the authority’s spending on it.
Residents also suspect the project is a “cash cow” for the council in the long term.
Council’s response to concerns
In a letter updating residents on the plans, Tom Finnegan-Smith, head of strategic transport, sustainability and infrastructure at the council, explained why the authority decided to cover such a large area, adding that the current plan is “NOT a foregone conclusion” and “ALL comments” will be taken into consideration.
He said: “We have received a number of comments from people who have questioned why their streets are included in the boundary of the parking scheme.
“We understand that some people have concerns about the scheme as they currently do not experience any issues parking outside their properties.
“It is our experience that if we do install parking restrictions on only those roads that suffer with commuter parking, there will be a displacement of parking on roads that do not have any restrictions.”
Given the high number of responses to the consultation, Mr Finnegan-Smith said it will take the council some time to consider all comments and it aims to report its findings and any changes in early summer.
A council spokesperson added: “Across many areas of the city centre and the surrounding neighbourhoods, demand for parking is outstripping supply. To combat the negative effects of unrestricted commuter parking on those living in the area, we have implemented a number of Controlled Parking Zones. Existing schemes include Broomhall, Broomhill, Sharrow Vale, Crookesmoor and Highfield – with Kelham and Neepsend and Park Hill being the next areas in the programme.
“Managing demand by implementing restrictions has been used effectively in areas surrounding the city centre for around 15 years.
“It is hoped that the parking scheme will help deal with the city’s pressing challenges and improve resident’s journeys and quality of life.”
There are multiple residents’ petitions against the scheme. The e-petition on the council’s website can be found here: https://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?ID=10254&RPID=7631119&HPID=7631119
The scheme would run from Monday to Friday between 8am and 6.30pm.
Pay and display charges will be £1.30 per hour and £6.50 all day.
Permits will cost the following:
One permit: £46.80 per year
Second permit: £93.60 per year
One business permit: £93.60 per year
Second business permit: £187.20 per year