Row breaks out over plan to demolish former Sheffield Coroner's Court

A row has broken out over the future of Sheffield's former Coroner's Court with campaigners labelling the plans 'perverse' but the developer stating the building needed to be demolished.

The former Sheffield Coroner's Court.
The former Sheffield Coroner's Court.

Developer Firestone Developments has submitted a demolition notice to the council signalling its intentions to consign the building to rubble to make way for a new apartment block.

But the application has been met with strong opposition and Valerie Bayliss, chairperson of the Friends of the Old Town Hall, said she was worried that if approved, the application may set a precedent and see other historic buildings demolished.

She said: "It would be really perverse if the council allow the demolition of the building and then two months later announce the Castlegate conservation area, which this site would be a part of.

"There is a lot of doubt about what can actually be done. It looks like a bit of a gap in the council's armoury because it's a demolition notice, not a planning application and it's not listed or in a conservation area."

Firestone Developments has submitted a demolition notice for the building, which stated that it hoped to start work as soon as August 13 and Sheffield Council is currently working on a masterplan for the Castlegate area.

The notice, which was submitted to Sheffield Council planning bosses on July 18, stated that an apartment block would be built on the site in place of the court building, which would be subject to a separate planning application.

George Johnston, of Firestone Developments, said: "I bought the building with outline planning consent to cut the building in half and put a new block behind it and join them together.

"But it wouldn't work and it's not a viable scheme so the architect came up with a cost-effective alternative. I agree that the existing building is nice but it is in disrepair and is unoccupied and I feel that a new block of flats will help redevelop the area."

Ms Bayliss said: "There is quite a head of steam about the city about what can be done to stop it. It is a good piece of building and studies said it went up at a time when the service need pulling together.

"As far as I know it was state-of-the-art. It integrated all of the coroner's services - the court, mortuary, post-mortem rooms, viewing chapel and witnesses' waiting rooms. It was also designed by the former city architect Mr Edwards."

Ms Bayliss has registered an objection to the demolition notice with Sheffield Council, which has until August 20 make a decision.