Sheffield council has recently announced plans that could greatly damage its planning department by removing specialist heritage staff from their team. In response to this, the chair of Portland Works’ board of directors has submitted the following open letter.
Dear Sir or Madam
I am writing to you in my capacity as Chair of Sheffield’s historic Portland Works, a heritage-driven organisation that provides workspace for more than 30 small local business. I wish to express my concern at the proposed cuts to the Council’s planning department, as reported in the Star on 15 November.
Despite its significant place in history, Sheffield already has one of the smallest heritage specialist teams out of the eight core cities. Despite this, it appears that these cuts will threaten the city’s two Conservation Officers as well as the Urban Design Team.
These hard-working professionals play a vital role in the protection of Sheffield’s historic environment, so much of which has been lost or damaged. Removing or outsourcing these functions can only result in the unnecessary loss of even more irreplaceable historic buildings.
Combined with the recently announced 5-year delay to the Local Plan, my fellow directors and I fear this will signal to developers that Sheffield puts a low value on both heritage and the quality of new buildings. We believe it vital that both these issues remain at the top of the Council’s agenda.
John Rouse, Chair of the board of Portland Works