City urged to approve housing plan despite fierce opposition

UNPOPULAR proposals to demolish a house and build 14 new homes where it stands have sparked a row between council planners and local residents, who disagree on the development's impact on nearby historic sites and parkland.

Sheffield-based Cero Architecture has submitted outline plans for Burngreave, Sheffield, which shows two and three-storey houses on a site in Abbeyfield Road, which overlooks Abbeyfield Park and Burngreave Cemetery.

The plans are set to be given consent tomorrow, despite a large number of objections from neighbours about the potential effect on the park, which is registered as a local heritage site, and the cemetery, which is nationally listed.

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According to the application before Sheffield Council planners, the land was last used as a yard, and includes a house which fronts onto nearby Holtwood Road, which would be demolished to make way for the new houses.

A planning officer's report describes the area under consideration as "very run down in appearance" and points out that the site is close to listed buildings, including grade II-listed Abbeyfield House, which lies in the park.

Despite this, many residents have written to the council in a bid to halt the scheme for new homes on the vacant land, which currently houses storage containers and a portable building, claiming they are "out of character".

Two rounds of public consultation have been held about the development, with the first prompting a series of 23 letters, all of which objected to the scheme on a number of grounds, including appearance.

According to a report to be presented to a Sheffield Council planning committee, objectors claim: "The design of the housing is out of character with the locality and its historic context and lacks co-ordination.

"The design proposals are poor quality and the architecture is not original or complementary to that of surrounding buildings. The scale and character are inappropriate.

"The height of the houses are out of character and tower above those on Holtwood Road and would be overly dominant. The scale and the form of the proposed buildings do not complement surrounding historic buildings."

After a second public consultation, which was held after some amendments were made to the original plans, a further 16 complaints were made to the council about the development again stating concerns over the site's historic context.

Other objectors have called for the site to be turned into a "green corridor" to link the cemetery and the park, and concerns have also been raised about the impact on local services, which are already "oversubscribed".

Planning officers who have examined the proposal will advise councillors that despite the large number of objections, the scheme should be approved, because planning policy dictates that such "brownfield sites" should be developed for housing.

Their report says: "The design and layout of the scheme has been significantly improved over the course of the application and the scheme now presented shows development of appropriate scale and height that is compatible with the existing streetscene.

"The scheme includes features such as windows of appropriate proportions, elevated gardens and appropriate materials.

"It would improve the visual quality of a site which is currently an eyesore and detracts from the visual amenities of the area and the setting of local heritage assets. The development of the site would not be harmful to these assets.

"Owing to the scale of the proposed buildings and their siting in relation to existing housing, the scheme does not have an undue impact on residential amenity."

A final decision on the development will be made by Sheffield Council's west and north planning and highways area committee at a public meeting to be held at Sheffield Town Hall tomorrow at 2pm.