Sheffield City Council’s planning department has issued an ‘Article 4 notice’ protecting a historic asset from demolition.
The news comes less than a week after Sheffield’s Heritage Champion, Labour Cllr Janet Ridler (Stocksbridge and Upper Don), intervened in asking the council to urgently approve the Article 4 notice. Labour councillors stepped in after hearing a firm had applied for a fast-track demolition order, which potentially could have allowed them to knock down the building from April 6.
Cllr Ridler and local Labour Cllr Nighat Basharat (Nether Edge and Sharrow) were alerted to an application to demolish the former Mappins Coffee House on London Road, Highfield, by a firm seeking planning permission to replace the building with new shops and apartments.
Hallamshire Historic Buildings (HHS) and the Victorian Society lodged objections to those plans and Robin Hughes of HHS spotted that the developers had separately applied for a fast-track demolition order. That would have allowed the building to be knocked down in days, before councillors had even considered the planning application.
Labour asked the council to urgently approve what’s called an ‘article 4 notice’ that would block the developer’s bid to allow demolition from April 6.
Council officers have over the weekend worked at speed to issue this order.
Confirming the Article 4 status, Cllr Nighat Basharat said: “I’m delighted that the council’s planning’s team has been able to step in and save the former Mappins Coffee House. It’s a much-loved building in our area, and certainly has potential to be repurposed. It would have been awful to have seen it demolished in this way.
“It’s outrageous that the developer tried to get around the local planning process. The application now will be considered at Planning Committee in due course, as should have always been the case. I’m glad that we’ve been able to deliver this for local residents and I thank everyone involved for their work in getting us to this point. We had to work quickly!”
Heritage Champion, Cllr Janet Ridler said:
“It’s not what I would expect a developer to be doing and I do question that motive. It feels like an attempt to circumvent the planning process.
“A lot of people were quite rightly concerned about the proposal. I agree with them that this is an important historic building. It has a significant place in Sheffield heritage. It is part of our working-class history, it was designed for ordinary people to use”.
The three-storey building was originally called Highfield Cocoa and Coffee House. It was built in 1877 by cutlery and steel magnate Sir Frederick Thorpe Mappin to keep working-class men out of pubs.
In the planning application, put forward by Spring Planning Ltd on behalf of applicants Keeton’s Management Services Ltd, the building and former Tramway pub next door would both be demolished to make way for ground-floor retail space and 22 apartments above. Neighbouring offices would be turned into 37 apartments with parking and landscaping.
Ibby Ullah, Labour Candidate for Nether Edge & Sharrow ward said:
“This building means a lot to people locally.
“Its original function as a cocoa and coffee house is an important part of Sheffield’s working-class heritage as it was a place where working-class families could meet other than in the pub. It’s important as the first Cocoa and Coffee House in Sheffield and an early example of its type nationally.’
“The building is an important historic asset to the city and local people have said it should be appropriately and sensitively restored and renovated, so that its new use reflects its heritage”.
The current application will be considered by Sheffield City Council’s Planning Committee within the next 6 months, and the site is protected from demolition throughout this time.