Joined Up Heritage Sheffield calls on Sheffield City Council to rethink proposed planning department cuts
Joined Up Heritage Sheffield is gravely concerned at the proposed cuts to the Sheffield City Council’s planning department, affecting all specialist teams, as well as officers handling routine applications, as reported in the Sheffield Star and Planning Resource magazine. Sheffield already has one of the smallest heritage specialist teams out of the 8 core cities, and now the two remaining Conservation Officers are threatened, as is the Urban Design Team. Removing or outsourcing these functions can only result in further unnecessary loss or damage to the city’s historic environment. These proposals, and the recently announced 5-year delay to the Local Plan, signal to developers that Sheffield puts a low value on both heritage and the quality of new buildings. To succeed, our city must grasp the heritage premium and reap its economic and social benefits. Otherwise it is engaged in a race to the bottom which it cannot win.
We are also keenly aware of the wider importance of the expertise and local knowledge of planning officers. The potential loss of officers dealing with access, dangerous structures and the certification of sports buildings has implications for the safety of the public. Sheffield has just had a harsh reminder of our vulnerability to flooding. Planning officers are vital in ensuring new developments are safe, designing new defence and mitigation schemes, and preventing new building in risky locations. Fewer officers will mean less scrutiny of applications, which will compromise flood risk assessment. Irresponsible developers will seek to exploit the reduction in resource, pressuring officers, resisting expensive mitigation and using the age of current policies to question restrictions on building locations.
The proposed cuts are a short-sighted measure that compromises Sheffield’s future success and sustainability. We urge the Council to think again.
- Sheffield Council specialist planning jobs under threat, Sheffield Star 5 November 2019
- Sheffield places ‘up to 28’ planning and urban design roles under review, Planning Resource 12 November 2019
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