Residents attack homes project for former city car showroom

PEOPLE living in the Sheffield neighbourhood of Banner Cross are objecting to plans to convert a former car showroom on one of the busiest roads in the city into a new development of homes, shops and a restaurant.

The site in question is the former Gilder's Volkswagen dealership at the junction of Ecclesall Road South and Psalter Lane and the plans, which are set to be agreed by councillors today, involve using the ground floor of the former showroom as a shop and creating a bar or restaurant above.

A neighbouring workshop and office building would then be converted into seven flats and seven houses would also be built on the site. One of those homes would be a six-bedroomed detached property and the other six would be in three pairs of semi-detached houses, all gaining access from Talmont Road.

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The plans have drawn a substantial number of objections from neighbours, who say there is already "excessive" congestion in the area and additional restaurants or shops could impact on existing local businesses.

A total of 35 letters of opposition have been submitted to Sheffield Council, including one from ward councillor Sylvia Dunkley.

Coun Dunkley said: "My most significant concerns relate to traffic generation and road safety. The proposed prohibition of any left-hand turn from Ecclesall Road to Psalter Lane for vehicles travelling outbound from the city centre will cause major inconvenience for some local residents.

"Local residents already have major concerns about road safety at the junctions of Brincliffe Edge Road and Gisborne Road with Ecclesall Road South, and there is a real danger that this application will just make the situation worse. The impact of the proposed retail and restaurant units on both the viability of the city centre and of the Banner Cross district shopping centre needs to be given very careful consideration.

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"Finally, if the development were to be granted planning permission, it would be helpful to Banner Cross shoppers if the car park could be made available for general use rather than just for visitors to the units on the actual site."

Another neighbour said: "I have grave concerns on the impact this will have on the community.

"Ecclesall Road South is already one of the busiest roads in Sheffield and more residential dwellings will be, in my opinion, overuse of the land.

"With the development of the old university site and Psalter Edge, the amount of traffic will increase significantly."

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Other objectors say that air pollution could reach "dangerous levels" at Banner Cross, views from the new houses would invade neighbours' privacy and the 35 proposed parking places for the businesses are "insufficient."

Despite these concerns, however, planning officers have advised councillors to grant consent for the proposals at today's meeting. They say that, while the retail unit could possibly be purchased by a supermarket chain – which is a main concern of neighbours – a condition is recommended to limit the size of that store.

The planners also say that concerns about a loss of views to Greystones and Ecclesall are "not protected within the planning system" and "could not form a reason to resist granting consent."

"The proposal is considered to be in keeping with the character of the area", the planners' report says. "The proposal would safeguard the protected woodland and have an acceptable impact upon local ecology.

"Overall, the scheme is considered to be acceptable."

If the development is given the go-ahead, the applicant, Gilder Group, will have to pay almost 20,000 to the council to be used for providing open space elsewhere in the neighbourhood.