This is the moment councillors voted to agree controversial plans - objected to by nearly 20,000 people - to knock down independent shops in Sheffield this afternoon.
Some said they were ‘searching for’ legal reasons to reject the controversial proposals without them being likely to go to appeal during a heated two-hour meeting at Sheffield Town Hall.
And it was described as one of the ‘most difficult’ decisions they had ever had to make.
During the debate cries of ‘Save Dev Street’ could be heard from the hundreds of protesters who had gathered outside with just a few days’ notice.
But in the end and ‘on balance’ councillors decided to agree the plans to demolish shops on Devonshire Street and replace them with flats, a restaurant and a shop.
Three councillors voted against the plan, seven for it, and Coun Denise Reaney abstained on ‘moral grounds’ as she could not find a valid planning reason to refuse it.
Coun Peter Price, who was against, said that if there ‘was a chance’ the council could reject the proposals on heritage grounds then it should be taken.
He added: “I think it is worth trying to be honest with you.”
Coun Jack Clarkson questioned the impact of extra traffic, noise and smells on residents living in the area.
He added: “This is a quirky place - it’s why people go to visit it. If we knock this down we are going to build another bog standard student accomodation where you can’t open your windows.”
But others thought they was ‘clutching at straws’ and backed the plans from developer Primesite.
Coun Tony Downing, who was chairing the meeting, said that ‘something had to be done’ about the run-down state of the back of the buildings.
And Coun Bryan Lodge, who said it was a ‘difficult’ decision, added: “It is an area that is quite quirky - but I think the buildings that are proposed are sympathetic with what’s there. The current building is in a poor condition.”
Some councillors had expressed dismay that part of the heritage of the city was being lost.
Planning officers said that the shops could be repaired to make them structurally sound but there were ‘problems’ and that the shops had many levels, making them difficult for disabled people to navigate.
Earlier residents had spoken in support of the existing shops and said they were ‘global treasures.’ Another added that ‘character can’t be designed.’
Adam Murray, for agents and architects Coda Planning, had defended the proposal.
He said it had been designed to fit in with the area and independent shops could occupy the development when it was complete.
See tomorrow’s Star for reaction and more on this story.