Court of Appeal decision

Sorry to say it is not good news. We got to the court of appeal, we did everything we could do, but were faced with a fairly ‘keen on the establishment’ and set in his ways planning judge who took the lead between the two judges and thought everything was just tickety boo with the University’s claims of ‘World Leading’ status, of needing JUST 19500 sq metres to achieve their ‘brief’, and that planning officers had carefully weighed up the public benefit options.

There was a concession made on the correct analysis of Paragraph 133 of the National Planning Policy Framework, where the judges accepted that planners should be careful to distinguish the public benefit obtained by demolition per se, rather than by attending simply to the benefits of the whole scheme. That of course would also imply that public benefits of keeping the building were properly considered and balanced (bearing in mind the importance that is supposed to attach to preserving a listed building). That is some achievement in an ongoing debate which will hopefully help to focus discussion in any other future abuses of this clause.

It was sad, but not surprising given time constraints, that the judges then deferred to the judgement of the authors of the planning report and considered that they had attended to this difference, when it is clear that the University certainly had provided no such analysis. The option of retaining the building was dismissed by the University in 6 paragraphs of their ‘Heritage Statement’ (and some graphics which could have been done by a cgi architect on work experience). That option didn’t meet their requirements (framed of course to logically exclude the possibility of keeping the building).

There were no extra costs for the Court of Appeal hearing – to everyone who donated and pledged – your support really did tip it for SAVE who pushed ahead and were able to negotiate no more extra costs for SAVE and VS on the day. For that you should be proud – so much better to be able to say we did try everything, to see something like this through to the end and not stand down.

To all who have donated- -thanks! To those who pledged, if you would still like to help these organisations deal with the £10,000 loss that was incurred last week -that would be very welcome. It would give them the knowledge that, where necessary, they can step in and take legal action for Sheffield’s heritage and count on us to stand behind them.

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