Plans to cut up to 40 jobs from Sheffield City Council’s planning department amount to backdoor deregulation of planning, according to heritage campaigners
A review of the city’s 100-strong planning team is looking at cutting positions to make up for a shortfall in funding from central government.
It is understood the local authority has a £23.7 million funding gap for the next financial year
The Victorian Society has expressed ‘grave concern’ over the threat to Sheffield’s heritage, asking: ‘Who will protect Sheffield’s historic buildings from circling developers?’
The group, which campaigns for the preservation of Victorian and Edwardian buildings, said it was most worried about the potential loss jobs covering urban design, conservation and dangerous structures.
Victorian Society director Christopher Costelloe said: ‘If our finite historic buildings are left unprotected through cuts to the departments put in place to defend them, Sheffield risks losing the historic fabric which makes the city unique.’
And his colleague Tim Tayor, a conservation adviser, said: ‘Sheffield City Council [needs] to rethink these destructive cuts – as the effects would be hugely damaging for the future of Sheffield’s built heritage’.
Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, agreed the proposed job cuts were ‘alarming’.
She said: ‘It’s in all of our interests that planning authorities are properly resourced – we need skilled, robust decision making that gives planners and conservation officers confidence to defend our historic environment and insist on high-quality new schemes.
‘These cuts send out the message that the council is in retreat – and that the city’s historic buildings, civic character and quality of future development are up for grabs.’
Sheffield City Council has not responded to a request for comment.