John Highfield

Planning expert disappointed at Sheffield Council’s Local Plan programme

SHEFFIELD Council’s proposed five-year Local Plan is disappointing according to one of the city’s leading planning experts.

Rob Crolla, the director of CODA Planning, says the programme has caused dismay in the development industry but he recognises the challenges that the City Council faces in delivering a new plan quickly.

He warns that the position could cause a policy vacuum that will lead to uncertainty and loss of momentum in Sheffield as the driver of the Sheffield City Region and the wider economy.

“Securing planning permission is a central and crucial part of the development process – without planning permission there is no ability to build,” Rob explained.

“It is, therefore, seen as a big risk element in the delivery of any scheme and developers want certainty that any proposal which they commit time and funds to will be granted consent.

“Planning decisions should be made in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

“It is imperative that the development plan is adopted and up to date so that developers know where they stand in relation to planning risk before committing to a scheme.”

Developers needed to feel a sense of certainty, Rob said, adding that at the moment that certainty was lacking in Sheffield.

And he warned that the problem would only increase as time progressed without an up to date plan in place.

“The current plan consists of the saved policies of the Sheffield Unitary Development Plan, adopted in 1998, and the Sheffield Core Strategy, adopted in 2009,” he pointed out.

“That means we are relying on some policies which are over 20 years old, with the most up to date being 10 years old.

“In addition, the accompanying document to the Core Strategy – the City Policies and Sites DPD – was abandoned in 2013, some five years ago and no new allocations document has emerged since.

“Councils are required to undertake regular reviews of development plan documents to ensure they accord with National Planning Policy.”

CODA submits more planning applications to the City Council than any other planning consultancy.

“This policy vacuum will lead to further uncertainty and loss of momentum in Sheffield, as the driver of the Sheffield City Region, and the wider economy,” said Rob.

“We have built up a good working relationship with Council Officers and members at Sheffield City Council and we would wish this to continue.

“We recognise the challenges that the city council is facing in resourcing a programme that can deliver a robust plan quickly and effectively which provides this certainty.

“If there is any way the development industry can assist in securing this additional resource we would be more than happy to engage in the process.”

CODA Planning is the planning division of CODA Studios, the award winning multi-disciplinary design practice with offices in Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester.

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