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Agenda item

Public Questions and Petitions

To receive any questions or petitions from members of the public

Minutes:

5.1

Nigel Slack was in attendance, and asked the following questions:

 

Question One:

 

‘Today's agenda includes two items covering what might be referred to as the City's land utilisation and asset performance. Item 9. The Sheffield Plan & Item 10. The Sheffield Land & Property Plan.

 

In respect of item 9, I would simply ask whether, with a UDP from the previous century and a Core Strategy that is 12 years old, how will the city moderate the rapacious nature of property developers from damaging the city's heritage and exploiting local planning guidelines weaknesses?

 

In respect of item 10, I would ask a more complex question. The city's Property Services have performed poorly over the last 5 or more years in disposing of heritage assets. Mount Pleasant House took 3 years to complete a sale, there was confusion and obfuscation over the fate of Birley Spa, there was deceit and dissembling around the development of the General Cemetery, there are ongoing concerns over the redevelopment of Cambridge Street and this report does nothing to assuage many of those issues previously identified.

 

The main point however is that these disposal choices were made by Property Services with little or no consultation with Sheffield heritage groups or the residents of the city. Are these assets held in trust for the residents of the city or are they being treated as the personal assets of Property Services?

 

This report today gives no confidence that future disposals will be any better handled than previous bodge jobs. Will Council therefore consider this report in view of the changing nature of decision making in the city and this committee's commitment to inclusive decision making and the involvement of residents in these decisions? If so this report needs further review.’

 

Question Two:

 

‘For those uncertain, Orchard Lane runs from Leopold Street towards Balm Green, alongside Leopold Square. It allows for rear access to the tenants of Leopold Square and to the Car Park beneath the Fountain Precinct.

 

Currently the land on this lane within the curtilage of Leopold Square is a literal tip. Broken window frames, broken furniture, dumped beer barrels, full plastic rubbish bags and general detritus. Some of which also appears to be blocking fire exits from Leopold Square properties.

 

I recognise that the hospitality trade is under pressure after the problems of lockdowns and staff shortages but, having seen the state of this lane I will not be visiting any of the businesses with such lax hygiene on display.

 

What can SCC do to support & enforce reasonable levels of cleanliness?’

 

Councillor Julie Grocutt responded to the first part of question one, linked to Item 9, the UDP and core strategies. She stated that the Council was able to use the National Planning Policy Framework to guide planning decisions where Local Plan policies were out of date. She added that a number of policies in the Core Strategies were consistent with the National Planning Policy framework and could therefore be given significant weight in planning decisions.

 

Councillor Cate McDonald responded to the second part of question one. She stated that the plan included on the agenda provided a high-level overview of what the Council would use its estate for and the principals for decision making. She said that this would be underpinned by a more detailed suite of policies and procedures which would set out how decisions would be made about the Council’s estate, including the disposal of Council assets. Councillor McDonald stated that the Council was committed to inclusive decision making and would work to utilise Local Area Committees to encourage input from local residents. She said that decisions about the Council’s land and property were not made by Property Services but were instead made corporately through the appropriate governance arrangements. Councillor McDonald said that none of the assets mentioned in Mr Slack’s question were held in trust, and added that any assets held in trust were brought to the Council’s Co-Operative Executive meetings with Co-Operative Executive members acting as trustees.

 

Councillor Paul Wood was unable to attend the meeting, therefore Councillor Grocutt read a written response provided by Councillor Wood. The statement was as follows: A number of issues which have been highlighted in this question are already being looked into. Thank you for drawing these to our attention. Any fly tipping will be removed, and we will be contacting businesses who we believe to be disposing of waste illegally. Commercial bins on pavements are an issue on some streets in the surrounding area, and the Highways Enforcement team are already working on this and a number of issues in the local area. We will consider what further action needs to be taken in relation to the issues that you have raised and we will be happy to confirm the actions which have been taken once these have been completed.