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BenBeau

Are conservation areas respected enough by Planning?

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2 articles in today’s Star newspaper report on planning decisions to permit building in conservation areas, despite objections.

1.     Netherthorpe: New flats can be built in conservation area.  (Read more at: https://www.thestar.co.uk/our-towns-and-cities/sheffield/new-flats-can-be-built-in-conservation-area-1-9310372)

As part of planning conditions, developers will pay £31,000 to Sheffield Council for traffic management, and a further £50,000 to South Yorkshire Passenger Transport to develop the Netherthorpe Road Tram Stop.

2.   Hanover Conservation Area.    Historic building can have modern extension despite objections (Read more at: https://www.thestar.co.uk/our-towns-and-cities/sheffield/historic-building-can-have-modern-extension-despite-objections-1-9309557)

 

Brian Holmshaw, who was speaking on behalf of Sheffield’s heritage community, told the committee: “There’s no objection to the scale or massing of this extension, it’s the design that’s an issue."

Coun Rob Murphy said: “It is not in keeping with the conservation area and sticks out rather than blends in. It’s not appropriate.”

Coun Peter Price said: “One of the beauties of Glossop Road is the variety of buildings and this is certainly better than the blank white wall which is currently there.”

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Most of it comes down to money at the end of the day. Plus meeting targets on things like housebuilding.

However heritage construction is often overpriced. And to make things fit in with what's there, is more expensive than using cheap mass produced building materials. For example if you were told that the extension to your property would require to be made of Tudor bricks. The question is who makes Tudor bricks these days and of course anyone that does probably will charge 4 times the price of a standard house brick.

I have heard that there are little incentives in the form of tax relief on heritage projects. So it is cheaper to build something new, than having land doing nothing. Hence Peter Price's comment.   

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The Council can only reject an application on good planning grounds. A failed application can always betaken to appeal and this can, and does, cost the Council money....as witness the planning application for Jessop's Hospital. Planning Councillors do not need any special qualifications in planning or architecture. Ones opinion might be diametrically opposed to an others...hence they rely heavily on their Officers guidance.

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In direct answer to the question, NO THEY ARE NOT. The planning panel are mostly unqualified to make an individual true assesment of the plan put forward in a sensitive conservation area. They read the paperwork proposals, but unless they have actually been to the area, and investigated how a planned building will affect the 'neighbouring properties', and talked to 'local people', directly taking on board the issues they have, they truly are NOT respectful of the reason WHY it is a CONSERVATION AREA. It was made a CONSERVATION AREA for a REASON.  We all know of heritage buildings and areas lost to this WONDERFUL CITY, by past planning panels shocking decisions.

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No part of the council has any respect for anything to do with history or heritage. Anyone can do anything provided they provide a big brown envelope with enough £50 notes in it! That's the impression I get anyway.

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I'm not really into politics, but from what I understand many of the heritage schemes have been eroded away by Central Government. If a developer comes along with a scheme, which is linked to some special funding scheme, then the planning officers can't stop them. 

In the past you could get the Council Planning Officers on your side if they were sympathetic to your ideas. 

However the Planning Department Councillors have many voices in their ears. So if they have been briefed by groups or bodies who want to see new build in Conservation areas, then they are going to listen to them. It rather depends on the heritage lobby sticking together. But some don't want to do that, for financial reasons.

One thing that happened to me was the loss of control that happened with the Norfolk Heritage Trail. It was original set up by all the groups and projects and people connected with the Trail. However Green Estates took it over, because they wanted to make money from charging people to go on the trail. They excluded members from the trail and stop the meetings. They even set it up as it's own group, electing members from projects closely connected to Green Estates. The whole idea of the Trail was for the different groups and projects to come together to discuss with equal say the ups and downs of the Trail.

I don't know how it's now operated, since I haven't heard a thing for years. However if that's how community groups operate connected with heritage, then you can see how easy it is for those not concerned with heritage to bypass any of the concerns of heritage groups or bodies and individuals.    

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