Decision date for Sheffield strip club plan

Councillor Rob Murphy outside Steelhouse, which has applied for a change of use to a lap dancing bar.
Councillor Rob Murphy outside Steelhouse, which has applied for a change of use to a lap dancing bar.
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PRESSURE is mounting on Sheffield Council to refuse plans for a new lap-dancing club.

Campaigners fighting plans to transform Steelhouse bar on West Street into a lap-dancing venue have voiced fresh fears after a sex attack in the city centre.

Proposals – which include booths, a table and dancing poles – have been met with opposition from councillors, Sheffield Cathedral, Sheffield City Centre Residents’ Action Group, MP Paul Blomfield and the nearby Quaker Meeting House.

Those opposed issued a fresh warning to Monday’s council planning committee after a woman was attacked on Carver Lane, a side street linking West Street and Division Street, last week.

Peter Sephton, chairman of Sheffield City Centre Residents’ Action Group, said: “Research undertaken in the London Borough of Camden found a 50 per cent increase in sexual assaults after the rapid expansion of lap-dancing clubs. Personal testimonies reinforce the idea of a link between the expansion of lap-dancing clubs and increased levels of sexual harassment for women in the vicinity.”

Central Ward Coun Rob Murphy said: “A number of local residents have contacted me with concerns.

“Thousands live in apartments on West Street and many more visit regularly for leisure, entertainment and shopping. It’s vital that people feel safe at all times on West Street and in the city centre.

“Permission for this lap-dancing club shouldn’t be granted.

“It will contribute to a gradual downturn that risks turning West Street into an unsafe area avoided by many the later the night goes on.”

In his report, case officer Matthew Ridge said: “Although a significant number of objections to the proposal have been made on the grounds that it would lead to increased crime and disorder, there is considered to be little available evidence to support this in respect of this application.

“In general, public safety and crime and disorder issues are matters relevant to the issuing of premises licenses.

“However, it should be noted police have raised no comments to the proposal on this basis.”