More than 14,000 people have signed a petition to save a corner of independent shops in Sheffield from the bulldozers in just a few days.
The campaign was launched after plans to demolish a number of ‘vibrant’ properties on Devonshire Street, and replace them with a three-storey block of apartments, restaurants and cafes were submitted to Sheffield Council.
Celebrity fans of shops including the Race and Racy book shop as well as the Syd and Mallory design label have added their support to the cause.
Now the petition will be presented to Sheffield Council’s full planning meeting next week.
Poet Jonathan Butcher, of Heeley, started the petition aimed at seeing the plans withdrawn with his girlfriend Kerry Hindmarch.
The 36-year-old, who was collecting signatures from shoppers on the street today, said: “The people of Sheffield are seeing their culture and heritage go all the time and this seems to be the final straw.
“Every single person we have spoken to is against this.”
Jonathan, who stocks his books at Rare and Racy, said council rules meant the petition could not the subject of a full debate at the meeting, but it would be discussed.
Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield was visiting the shop owners today to discuss the plans from Sheffield business Primesite Ltd.
He said: “I’ve had a lot of constituents get in touch with me and they are really concerned.
“I share that concern, because I think shops like this on DS really make the character of the city centre, it’s not just about the big chains.
“We want small, independents that give life to the city.
“I’m really worried that, not only the development but the change in the uses for these units so restaurants and bars can move in will fundamentally weaken the city centre.”
And shopper Amher Ward, who was visiting from Nottingham, said: “I signed the petition because these are great independent shops and it would be a real shame to change them to flats.”
Arctic Monkeys’ drummer Matt Helders, Castleton band Drenge and the stars of TV series This is England - who have had clothes commissioned by Syd and Mallory - have previously backed the campaign.
Architects for the developers say the scheme will ‘rejuvenate’ the block and reduce anti-social behaviour, and the new building will look almost identical to the current one.
In total there will be 14 new homes with a roof garden and courtyard.
Coda Planning director Adam Murray said: “This is a block which is falling into a state of disrepair and without action its long term use will be compromised.”