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RTPI Yorkshire: Sheffield City Council’s proactive use of planning enforcement wins top award

15 September 2017

Sheffield City Council’s proactive use of planning enforcement powers to turn derelict inner city sites into new homes has won the top planning award in Yorkshire.

The RTPI Yorkshire has given the council’s “stuck sites” housing project the 2017 Planning Excellence Award.

The project involves the council using Section 215 of the Town & Country Planning Act, an enforcement notice typically served reactively to negligent building owners in response to complaints, to spur regeneration and develop new housing on eyesore sites and derelict historic buildings.

Since its inception in 2012, the project has already been successful in securing applications for 777 homes, some of which are now built and occupied.

One of the schemes is the development of Lion Works, a Grade II listed Victorian factory, into a mixed use development with 92 residential units (pictured above, right).

The council took the initial step of using £280,000 of funding to repair the roof and make the building wind and watertight, while at the same time pursing enforcement action. The threat of enforced sale to recover the council’s costs combined with the tenacity and skills of local planners to negotiate a deal resulted in the owner putting forward a development scheme.

Jennifer Winyard, Chair of the RTPI Yorkshire judging panel, said:

“This is an outstanding project that shows what local planners can achieve with the creative use of existing powers and with their own tenacity, expertise and skill. In bringing otherwise difficult opportunities forward, not only have they brought new life to run down places, but increased a vital supply of homes on brownfield sites. 

“The project has delivered positive change through proactive engagement with land and property owners, and helped to change their attitudes towards maintenance without resorting to legal or enforcement action.

This is an outstanding project that shows what local planners can achieve with the creative use of existing powers and with their own tenacity, expertise and skill.

“It is good to see planning enforcement, an important but often negatively perceived function, to be able to secure crucial funding from the Council and shape the lives of local communities in such a positive way.”

The project was led by planning enforcement and conservation officers from Sheffield City Council.

Other sites tackled by the “stuck sites” programme include the former Ebezener Chapel in the Kelham Island Conservation Area; the Williams Brothers site; St Vincent’s Chapel; and a derelict former working men’s club at Beaumont Road.

Image: Lion Works, Sheffield City Council