Heart of the City II: Council overwhelmingly votes to save historic chimneys against advice of officers

Sheffield Council’s planning committee overwhelmingly rejected the latest Heart of the City II redevelopment plans in order to save historic chimneys.

The decision was taken against the advice of officers who warned that refusal would put economic, social and environmental benefits of the scheme on hold and may lead to other cost cutting.

This latest part of the council’s multi-million pound project related to the Pepper Pot building in Block C (which is bound by Pinstone Street, Cambridge Street and Charles Street).

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Developers asked for permission to change its original plans, which were agreed with the council, by reducing the number of historic chimneys – designed by architects Flockton and Gibbs – it was replicating to only one and the number of roof windows from 11 to six.

Artists' impression of the Pepper Pot building, which is part of the Heart of the City II scheme. Sheffield Council's planning committee refused the latest plans on the building to save historic chimneys.

Councillor Bob McCann said: “I don’t know about Heart of the City, I don’t think there is any heart left in the city to be honest but that’s my personal opinion.

“What I can get from this is that the council had been asked to help the developer save money and I really don’t accept it. I mean you take the chimneys off, you completely change the shape of the building.

“We only agreed to it because they were retaining the shape of the building and the look of it.

“I’m sorry, I’m not going to support this at all, chair, because I think it’s another piece of Sheffield’s history going down the pan.”

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He later added: “It’s about time we as a council put a line in the sand. It’s about saying to developers: ‘We care about the city as it is.’ And we need to preserve as much of the city [as we can]. It may not be the best architecture in the world but it is Sheffield and God knows the Sheffield I grew up in has pretty much disappeared. There is not much of it left.”

Coun Andrew Sangar said: “In terms of Heart of the City, we have been here for 24 years and I’ve sat in numerous meetings where the public standing with display boards have all said that the facade of Pinstone Street is one of the things they want to keep and by the facade they mean the front, the roof and the chimneys…

“I think the idea that the whole scheme is going to fall apart if we don’t agree to this pulling down chimneys I think that’s clearly wrong.

“This is a really important piece of Sheffield’s heritage that the people of Sheffield care about and these chimneys are really important to the character of the conservation area and therefore I shall be voting against.”

Before making the decision Howard Baxter, planning officer, warned against refusal.

He said: “If the developer was required to put the chimneys in there would be a delay in the scheme coming forward and they would need to make savings elsewhere in the scheme which may have impacts on the quality of the scheme overall.

“This may result in the buildings being vacant for a longer period than we would expect if some of these potential occupiers are lost to the scheme.”