Objection by the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust
Lidl have submitted a 'revised' design for their proposed store at St Marys Gate.
We still need your help to get them to uncover the hidden Porter Brook here! Please Update your Objection!
Deadline: Wed 16th November 2022
Via the Planning Portal
Or Email case officer Jacob.George@sheffield.gov.uk quoting 22/01163/FUL
Read more to find out how you can support us.
The Sheaf & Porter Rivers Trust have responded with the following further objection.
"On behalf of the Sheaf & Porter Rivers Trust I would reiterate our continuing objection to the Lidl proposal.
Whilst the revised Ecology Report does now grudgingly acknowledge the existence of the Porter Brook adjoining and culverted under the site, the applicant remains dismissive of the benefits of extending and restoring the exposed river channel as a wildlife and active travel corridor and have rejected the deculverting of the Porter Brook.
Rather their priority is clearly the retention of a maximum number of car parking spaces which they claim are essential for viability. This claim is disproved by
a) the longstanding and successful operation of several large supermarkets in the city centre including Sainsbury on the Moor and Co-op on Castle St,
b) Lidl's own recently approved application for the former House of Fraser/TJ Hughes unit further down the same street (Eyre St/Arundel Gate)
None of these have any customer parking.
The parking at the application site was provided some 25 years ago to serve two retail warehouses selling bulky goods. There is no reason to assume that the level of parking provided for those very different users and in a very different policy environment, is in any way appropriate for the current use in 2022.
We would indeed question whether this use is even appropriate for the site at all, given the profusion of food retail already available in the area and the severe shortage of sites for much needed housing and employment in the city centre."
We request our supporters join us in objecting. If you have objected before, a new objection is required, otherwise it may be implied that you support the "new" proposal.
We fully support the following objection from the Environment Agency, which recommends the following condition be applied. This will likely require referral to the planning committee.
Environment Agency Objection
Proposed Demolition and Conversion of Building to form Supermarket Ref 22/01163 FUL
The Trust has no objection to the change of use of the existing buildings but does strongly object to Lidl's’ complete failure to acknowledge or value the presence of one of Sheffield’s principal rivers – the Porter Brook - running both alongside and under a part of the site, or to offer any compliance with Council planning policy on the restoration of this feature.
The river is indicated on the plan below in blue, approximately in the case of the culverted section.
We note that the application redline boundary deliberately excludes the river or its bank. We would be surprised if the applicants land ownership does not include up to the middle of the channel as is normal in such situations.
We are astonished that the Ecological Assessment by a supposedly professional Ecological consultant - Tyler Grange – states
‘’There are no waterways present on or adjacent to site, and all waterways in the surrounding area are separated by significant physical barriers including roads, rail lines and motorways. ‘’
So completely ignoring the presence of the exposed river which despite its unmanaged and neglected state is hard to miss.
The report also fails to point out that a further reach of the river runs west in a culvert under one corner of the extensive car park and grassed area.
Trust surveyors inspect the St Mary's Gate culvert
The report concludes:
'Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG): The Defra 3.0 Metric has calculated that without including off-site habitat creation, the proposed development at this stage as illustrated on the attached landscape strategy plan would amount to a measurable net gain in biodiversity value of c. 0.06 biodiversity units, equating to a 37.18% net gain in biodiversity value.'
In other words by adding a few plants to a minimal existing planting area the bio-diversity impact of the site is increased by almost 40% !! This in our view is a cynical statistical trick.
Council Policy on river restoration is very clear:
a) Local Plan Core Strategy Chapter 12 :
Policy CS 73 The Strategic Green Network
Within and close to the urban areas, a Strategic Green Network will be maintained and where possible enhanced , which will follow the rivers and streams of the main valleys:
a. Upper Don b. Loxley c. Rivelin d. Porter e. Sheaf f. Rother g. Lower Don/Canal; and include other strategic corridors through: h. Oakes Park to the Limb Valley i. Gleadless Valley j. Ochre Dike Valley k. Shire Brook Valley l. Shirtcliffe Brook Valley m. Blackburn Brook Valley and its tributaries n. Birley Edge.
12.12 The Network will be secured by preserving open space through development control, enhancing existing open space, creating new open space as part of new development and through developer contributions. The draft Public Rights of Way Improvement Plan proposes to enhance the provision of good quality paths and network links to and along the river corridors. It also proposes to integrate parks, woodlands site facilities, canal/riverside, and open country access into the overall path network.
b) The Sheffield Unitary Development Plan retained Policy GE 17 states that:
‘As part of the development of the Green Network, all rivers and streams will be protected and enhanced for the benefit of wildlife and where appropriate, for public access and recreation. This will be done by:
Not permitting the culverting of any river or stream unless absolutely necessary and encouraging the reopening of culverted watercourses where opportunities arise …
Expecting the setting back of any new development to an appropriate distance from the banks of major rivers and streams to allow for landscaping
The 2021 Environment Act requires a mandatory 10% net gain in bio-diversity. The applicants acknowledge this requirement and use Natural England’s Biodiversity Metric guidance but have sought to satisfy it in a minimal way by proposing a minor planting of a currently bare piece of earth, rather than make a worthwhile contribution by restoring the river. The guidance specifically mentions watercourses as a prime example of how the requirement should be met.
Deculverting and restoration of a significant section of the Porter Brook will form part of a greater project which is already happening throughout the Lower Porter Corridor from Hunters Bar to the Station. Redevelopment of former industrial sites between Shoreham St and Mary St is already opening up continuous access and providing restoration of the channel for wildlife. Major retailers such as Waitrose and Decathlon have played their part in exposing and improving their sections.
The Environment Agency and the Council are also currently focussed on a flood defence strategy for the Sheaf and Porter Valley and have recognised removal of culverted sections of river as one of the early ways to create more flood capacity, as demonstrated by the award winning Matilda St pocket park (see photo below)
Matilda Street Pocket Park - Example of a culvert transformed into creative space
The exposed section of the Porter Brook on the Lidl site is neglected, choked with litter and debris and largely inaccessible. But could be an attractive and bio-diverse feature and part of the emerging Porter Brook Trail.
The application site also has a rich industrial history as the Vulcan Forge, a forgotten water mill and dam.
We are only asking Lidl to play their part as an environmentally responsible business.
The applicants may argue that this will require the loss of some parking spaces which they can’t afford. The plans submitted show some 93 spaces which previously served two retail sheds. We believe our proposal would require the loss of around 20 spaces ( see sketch plan attached) .
We would point out that this is a store within the city centre, just off the main shopping spine of the Moor, where there is the best access to public transport available and where Council policy is trying to limit car access and encourage walking, cycling and public transport.
Most city centre retail units, including supermarkets, for instance Sainsburys on the Moor or the Co-op on Castle St, do not have dedicated car parking. There are also several public multi-storey car parks in the vicinity.
Maximising parking should therefore not be a determining factor over bio diversity and flood mitigation benefits.
We would add that the Trust’s volunteers, supported by the River Stewardship Company, would welcome the opportunity to work with Lidl on the future management, interpretation and stewardship of the Porter here.
We therefore support the implementation of the Council’s clear policies and object to the application until the applicants
include the exposed Porter within their site boundary and put forward proposals for its restoration with improved habitat, amenity, interpretation and future access for management
de-culvert the hidden Porter where it runs under their car park and install channel and bank naturalisation measures on their land
include signage and interpretation identifying the Porter Brook and the Porter Brook Trail within their site
Please add your own objections!
If you are struggling to use the Online Planning Portal,
Email case officer Jacob.George@sheffield.gov.uk quoting 22/01163/FUL
Or send a letter to
FAO Jacob George
Senior Planning Officer,
1 Union Street,
And then quoting reference number 22/01163/FUL