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Conran in 'spot the difference' row

Planning permission refusal could leave Sheffield tower half finished

A row over changes to cladding on Sheffield’s tallest tower could leave the city with a half-built eyesore, the AJ has learned.

Construction of the concrete core of Conran & Partners' proposed St Paul’s apartment scheme in the South Yorkshire city’s centre has already reached 27 storeys – just five short of the intended full height of 32 storeys.

However, the scheme, for collapsed developer City Lofts, has juddered to a halt after the practice was refused permission for alterations to the external skin.

Project architect Tim Bowder-Ridger claimed the ‘minor detail’ changes were necessary due to issues with windloading on the proposed facade coupled with increased financial pressures on the £67 million development.

He said: ‘This problem is primarily about buildability issues. The original idea had been for full, floor-to-ceiling sliding doors with internal Juliet balconies.

‘However, as we came to detailed design, there were concerns about windloading… so we looked at making the glazing two-thirds height instead, with an 800mm [base] off the floor.’

He added: ‘Obviously we are in 2008, so budget does have a bearing too.’

Unfortunately for Conran & Partners, Sheffield City Council’s planning refused to sanction the alterations despite officer support.

The decision has left the future of the scheme in the balance with the practice unsure how to make the cladding system acceptable and affordable ‘to the bank’, which is trying to see the project through to completion.

Meanwhile, the 300 contractors working on the scheme are understood to be ‘reviewing’ whether or not to carry on working on the development.

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