Agenda item

Public Questions and Petitions

To receive any questions or petitions from members of the public.



The Chair, Councillor Karen McGowan read out two questions and their responses from Glynis Chapman as follows:-




Q.1     What are the plans for the empty building on Streetfields Halfway. The old Knowle Hill nursing home. In the past year it has had a fire and cement lorries discharging wastewater down the drive flooding the basement (I reported that myself) There are lots of worries locally regarding this.




Response from Dermot Reader, Project Manager, Housing Growth Delivery Service.


You will recall from the briefing note dated 01/07/2022 that following feasibility investigations we have recommended the demolition of the existing building to enable a new build Temporary Accommodation facility of 25 units plus ancillary office space. The City-Wide Housing Service has committed to this being a women’s only site which will provide suitable and secure accommodation for its customers, in particular those fleeing domestic abuse. The site will have a 24/7 staff/security presence once in operation.




A Business Case has been submitted to secure capital approval to proceed with the demolition, but we must still complete the appropriation from the People to Place portfolio. The demolition works will need to be tendered in line with the council’s procurement guidelines. Therefore, the current timetable for demolition is May-July 2023.




In the meantime, I have been liaising with colleagues in Property Services and Property & Facilities Management to improve the security measures in place for the vacant building. Despite the screening, anti-climb measures, and security cameras already in place, there are individuals clearly intent on entering the building or climbing on the roof. Therefore, the next step will be to consider a manned security presence on-site.




Q.2     As the current infant school is in the old building at the bottom of station road and the junior school is on Streetfields we have lots of problems with parents having to use cars to collect children from both schools. It is a problem if you have a child in one school and another in the other school. Any thoughts on joining the schools which share a headteacher.




Response from Dermot Reader, Project Manager, Housing Growth Delivery Service.


I have spoken to Cathie Tandy (Strategic Commissioning Manager in the People Portfolio) regarding relocation of the infant school. Cathie has advised that there are currently no plans to relocate Halfway NI school next to the Junior school.




The situation is that there is great pressure on limited capital funds available which are being used to:

a) support expansion proposals in areas of the city where we have a deficit of places,

b) support any rebuilding of schools in the city which will need to focus on condition first.




I have also enquired with colleagues in Housing Strategy and Property Services, and there are no other accommodation proposals for this site. This is why it was previously declared surplus and was being considered for disposal.




Regarding the old Knowle Hill Nursing Home, Councillor Tony Downing said that he, along with Councillors Gail Smith and Kevin Oxley, and Clive Betts, MP, had been in negotiations with the relevant Council Departments dealing with this matter.  He said that due to vandalism, people getting onto the roof and throwing things off the roof, he was seeking to make the building more secure.




Councillor Mick Rooney said that to make the building more secure would cost an enormous amount of money, he asked why the building could not be demolished immediately as it was going to be demolished anyway, and why there was a need to transfer the appropriation of the building from one Council Department to another.




Councillor Karen McGowan said that she would take the suggestion forward and ask why the building could not be demolished before it was transferred between Departments.




With regard to the question relating to Halfway Infant and Junior Schools, Councillor Tony Downing said that he had contacted the school Governors and read out a statement which said that currently the Headteacher was acting as Head of both schools, it was hoped that this would help to standardise arrangements between the two sites but this had been set up as a temporary arrangement, as neither site had the capacity for both schools to be housed together. He said the solution would be for both schools to be rebuilt as one, but funding was not available at present, however it was hoped that it would be possible in the future.




Michael Meredith said that he had circulated two complex questions relating to his suggestions to help reduce energy and planning matters to all Members of the Committee and awaited their written responses to him. Councillor Karen McGowan said she would ensure that he received such responses.




Question from Claire Baker and Sandra Smith




Claire Baker spoke on behalf of them both and said that they would like to say thank you to Members of the LAC for passing on the data they had presented to the last LAC meeting.  They said that a couple of weeks after the meeting, they had received from email from the Chief Executive, Kate Josephs which stated that the Local Wildlife Site Panel were meeting and that the designating of Owlthorpe Fields was on the agenda.  Following that meeting, and the issuing of the minutes a few weeks later, they found out tat the remaining areas had been granted Local Wildlife Site status and as the LAC could imagine, they were absolutely chuffed to bits.  Now they are waiting to hear if their green space application was successful and were keeping everything crossed that the housing allocation will  have been removed in the new Local Plan.


So, there is only one question and that is, do you know when the draft plan will be issued?  and once again, thank you.




In response, Councillor Bryan Lodge stated that the Local Plan was going through the consultation process, which will take some time before being adopted, and he was unsure whether the green space application was be included within the Plan, if it was not, it would be unlikely that this would be included.




Councillor Karen McGowan said that it was hoped that the Local Plan would be brought to the next meeting of the LAC to be held in January, 2023.




Councillor Tony Downing stated that he had attended an onsite meeting with the Friends Groups along the Waterthorpe Corridor and said that everything at the site looked very positive. He said that a student from Hull University was leading on the project.




Question from James Walker




Were there any plans to improve Active Travel in the southeast of the city to reduce congestion.  He suggested some ways to deal with this would be to introduce school streets, improve bus services and cycle lanes, better bike paths, etc.  He felt that a reduction in waiting times at pedestrian crossings would be helpful and that there needed to be an improvement for cycle safety along the tram tracks and there had recently been another two accidents along the tracks.




Jayne Foulds said that Active Travel was included within Community Plan and extended cycle paths were being considered to link up with other areas of the city. She said that meetings regarding the Plan were to be held and the suggestions would be fed into the meeting.




Matt Reynolds, Transport Planning and Infrastructure Manager, said that Local Transport Plan (LTP) improvements to crossings etc. He considered the Supertram to be an asset to the area and as such was going through the process of making it better, how do we encourage more to use it. There were plans to improve the “park and ride” at Halfway and the Station Road crossing which was a connection into the Supertram network as well as the Infant School.  It was hoped that some of the Government funding there was a programme in the budget.  He said that other issues to be considered for Active Travel were Mosborough, School Streets Programmes, safer parking programme to promote walking to schools.




Councillor Tony Downing said that a petition was to be submitted to the Government.  He said that 30% of bus services were going to be cut across the South Yorkshire region.  He said there used to be a first-class bus service in Sheffield pre-1986 and it was taken out of local authority hands and put in the hands of private operators. He said that the bus companies were now at the point where they could no longer afford to run services, so he urged members of the public to sign the petition.  He said that the bus services were out of the control of the Council, but the Bus Partnership, of which Councillor Terry Fox was a member, was meeting with the bus operators pressing for better services.




In response to a question of where the petition was available to sign, Councillor McGowan said that the petition could be signed online and would share details with anyone wishing to sign the petition at the end of the meeting.




Councillor Mick Rooney said that the only area throughout the whole country not to have buses deregulated, was London. He said the cross-rail system recently completed in London had overspent by approximately £3bn and felt that some of that money could have been used in the north when talk about levelling up was used in Westminster.




Question from Michael Meredith




Is the Committee aware if any development offers have been received by the Peel Group, current owners of Doncaster Sheffield Airport? He said that recently, the Prime Minister Liz Truss had said that she would support the airport to remain open, is anyone chasing this?




Councillor Karen McGowan said that the Mayor of South Yorkshire, Oliver Coppard, along with the Combined Authorities had been in discussions with the Peel Group to keep the airport open.  She said that Doncaster Council  were to put planning restrictions in place.




Councillor Bryan Lodge said that the airport fell within the remit of Doncaster City Council and the Combined Authority of which Oliver Coppard was leading on. He believed the land was protected for a number of years for aviation purposes. He said the airport did not fall within the remit of Sheffield.




Question from Helen Harrison




She referred to a letter she was received regarding the Rother Valley Traffic Scheme. She said that she had been advised to attend the meeting as it was to be included within the agenda.




Councillor Karen McGowan asked Ms. Harrison who the letter was from and said that an officer from that Department was at the meeting and that she, along with anyone else, with an interest in this matter, could meet with him.




Question from Richard Teasdale




What are the City Council going to do to stop the Government attack on nature through its intended changes to the planning and infrastructure law and proposed investment zones. Many sites are under threat from the bulldozers and concrete, as the Government threatens to retained EU law bill where the Government threatens to tear up basic wildlife protection. There is a need to ensure that Sheffield does not trample over our wildlife, which might already be in danger from the so-called with investment plans.




Councillor Karen McGowan said that she would provide a written answer to this.




Councillor Bryan Lodge referred to proposed Enterprise Zones and Planning, stating that Councillors had expressed their concerns that the legislation would remove some of the planning controls that local authorities currently have which would take away local control. He said that since the announcement had been made, the legislation was still in the early stages, there were no details about it and nothing further on the matter.  Councillor Lodge said he had made enquiries of officers and had asked for a response and will forward such response to Richard when it was received.




Councillor Bob McCann said that he was a member of the Planning Committee and the control that that Committee had over planning matters were diminishing. He said that the decision regarding the Owlthorpe Fields was made by the Planning Inspectorate and undermined the decision previously made by Members of the Planning Committee. The Planning Inspectorate ignored the Council’s recommendation on the application.