‘Politically sensitive’ Sheffield housing plans delayed from publication

‘Politically sensitive’ plans to build thousands of homes on Sheffield’s Green Belt have been delayed from publication.

The Draft Sheffield Plan for intended new housing sites in the city between 2020 and 2034 was meant to have been released in 2018 but is yet to be published four months into 2019 and no publication date has yet been released ahead of local elections taking place next month.

The South Yorkshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England said today their own assessment of data from the council’s strategic housing land availability assessment suggests between 5,000 and 11,000 new homes may be allocated to be built on current Green Belt sites across the city. Around 40,000 homes are expected to be needed in the city overall.

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A Sheffield Council web page about the plan still states: “It is intended to publish a draft of the Sheffield Plan in 2018. This will set out a vision of how Sheffield will change and grow in the future. It will also include site development options.”

Thousands more homes are due to be built in Sheffield.

But on the same page is another message reading: “Consultation on the Draft Policies and Site Options document will now take place in 2019. The overall timetable is currently being reviewed.”

Andy Tickle, head of campaigns for the CPRE group, said: “Last September CPRE warned that taking land from Sheffield’s Green Belt to build new homes could be counter-productive.

“We are still clear that it would not meet people’s real housing needs in Sheffield, and it could deepen social inequalities.

“It is disappointing that, six months on, the council has still not issued the draft Local Plan for public consultation.

“Rumours are rife that the document is being held back because of its political sensitivity.

“This can only mean one thing: local politicians are very nervous about how much development is being proposed, and where. After years of waiting, when communities do eventually get to see the draft Local Plan they will only have six weeks to comment on it.”

He said one of the concerns is that attractive Green Belt sites will be used by developers to build expensive and more profitable properties rather than meeting housing needs across the city in a more effective manner. “It risks the wrong homes in the wrong places,” he said.

The CPRE have produced their own ‘threat assessment’ maps of where they predict houses will be built and are to hold a public consultation at Sheffield railway station on Friday and Saturday.

A spokesman for Sheffield City Council said the authority’s position had not changed since it last said the plan would be published in “due course”, with a consultation taking place to give the public “a real opportunity” to influence meeting the city’s housing needs.