‘What’s left needs protecting’ council urged to commit to conservation

An opposition councillor has urged the ruling party to make a ‘firm commitment’ to protect heritage after concerns were raised by campaigners.

Wednesday, 29th May 2019, 15:00 pm
Coun Douglas Johnson outside the former Sheffield Coroner's Court.

Green Party councillor Douglas Johnson, City ward representative, said ‘far too many’ of the city’s historic assets had been lost already.

It comes after Coun Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for business and investment, said they were considering a full review of all 38 of Sheffield’s conservation areas.

Head of City Regeneration for Sheffield City Council, Simon Ogden overlooking the Castle Market site

The Victorian Society said it was a ‘deeply concerning’ idea.

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Coun Johnson said: “I completely support the calls from the heritage groups across the city, who are united in warning the council over its threat to the city’s heritage.

“The council leadership should now respond with a very firm commitment to place the city’s built heritage at the centre of its development planning.

“What’s gone is gone. Far too many of Sheffield’s classic buildings and streets have been swept away in past drives towards large-scale redevelopment but what is left urgently needs protecting, enhancing, and bringing out as some of the gems that make Sheffield worth visiting, living and working in.

“This includes places like the unlisted Old Coroner’s Court, where proposals to convert an attractive old building have failed to gain approval and the council instead prefers total demolition.”

Concerns were first raised after Coun Iqbal mentioned the idea in a letter to Joined Up Heritage, in which he wrote of a plan ‘to review all of the city’s conservation areas to ensure they remain fit for purpose in terms of delivering on their original objectives and not acting as a break on development.’

He has confirmed they are considering a full review but said they have not yet made any decisions.

Coun Iqbal said: “I met with Joined Up Heritage to discuss how we can address its concerns. I am also having discussions with officers about how the city’s conservation areas can move forward and reflect the increasing amount of attention that Castlegate, and other parts of the city, are getting.

“We have not made any decisions as yet but these will be communicated in due course. It is brilliant to see interest in so many buildings in Castlegate which show that the area is enjoying a new vibrancy and identity. Our planning team will work closely with developers and other interested parties to ensure this progress continues.”

Castlegate is the oldest part of the city and is being revamped with £786,000 funding from the council. A new conservation area is also being set up to protect it.