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High winds could be dangerous at Sheffield tower blocks

Nigel Slack
Nigel Slack

Gale force winds whipping through a Sheffield tower block are causing dangerous vortexes, says a local resident.

Nigel Slack has questioned councillors about the safety of tall buildings in the city centre after seeing a whirlwind blow through the 21 storey New Era tower block on Bramall Lane.

As more and more high towers appear on Sheffield’s horizon, Mr Slack is concerned they could create wind tunnels which put people in danger. He referred to pedestrian Edward Slaney, who was crushed to death by a truck that was blown off its wheels close to the 32-storey Bridgewater Place in Leeds in 2011.

Work to combat the dangerous wind tunnel effect at the Leeds building is underway although high-sided vehicles were banned from the area during Storm Ali last week.

Mr Slack told the council’s Cabinet: “As I was walking down Bramall Lane in 40mph winds, the New Era building had created a vortex over the roundabout and there was quite large plastic bags and light debris reaching the full height of the development. What goes up must come down.

“With ambitions in the city centre for ever taller buildings, I have expressed concern to councillors and developers about wind flow issues at the ground level of such buildings.

“Clearly we would not wish to create a Bridgewater House effect within the city centre. Whilst I am currently in conversation with Heart of the City 2 about some of this, it is also clearly a planning issue for the city.

“What requirements do planning place on developers in respect of wind flow modelling for new proposals? In light of some sustained strong winds and with climate change making extreme weather events more frequent, what wind speeds are they expected to consider?

“Has the city created a measure of acceptable levels of pedestrian safety or comfort and how might this be measured or monitored? Does any expectation on developers include the impact of light debris around the city and any associated vortex hazards?”

Coun Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Development, said the council was looking at the problem.

“The sky’s the limit and we have ambitions for a city that stands tall and proud and is windproof. As part of the planning process we have requested a micro climate assessment to be carried out and the result of that will inform detailed design negotiations. Buildings may require a wind shield or design modifications to avoid a vortex. We will be providing further guidelines on this.”