Friday, 9 July 2010

Community Meeting 24 June 2010 10am Church of Christ

Chair: Councillor Harry Harpham

Councillor Mary Lea in attendance plus 16 residents, 3 council officers, 1 officer from the PCT and 1 Forum officer.

The following statement was made by planning officers:

The Council are no longer consulting on the three proposed sites for Gypsy and Travellers, including the one proposed for Darnall, as part of its current consultation on the Sheffield Development Framework. The Council has called the decision to include the sites in the draft consultation documents in for scrutiny. This means that the issue of Gypsy and Traveller sites will be looked at in more detail by members of the Scrutiny Committee on 6th July.

The City Council, as local planning authority, is currently required to allocate enough land in its development plan to meet future needs for Gypsy and Traveller sites. However, the Government has recently announced that they will be making changes to the process giving councils more local discretion. This may have implications for the assessment of need and the number of sites that are required. The Council expects to be doing more work on this issue, including consultation, but until the new guidance is published it is not clear what the Council will be required to do, so they have shelved this issue for the time being. The Council has in the meantime kept all the concerns which were sent to them.

Questions from members of the public:

Question: What are we to do with the petitions which the Councillors have circulated?

Councillor Harpham said that although we are no longer being consulted about this, the issue has not gone away. The Councillors share the concerns of local people and are 110% behind them. It is critical to keep collecting signatures on petitions. This will mean residents can be kept informed by letter about what is happening. There will be another public meeting after 6th July. The Councillors will hand in the petitions collected so far at the next Council meeting and they will continue to present them on a rolling basis.

Question: What about the Gypsies who are already living in Darnall without permission?

The concerns of residents were noted.

Question: Why had a meeting been called during the daytime when a lot of people cannot come?

Neil Bishop explained that we are holding a few daytime meetings as well as our regular evening meetings to help a wider cross-section of residents to get their views across. Evening meetings are not always well attended.

Question: How many sites have been proposed in areas where Liberal Democrat voters are in the majority?

Seven

Question: What about the problems that have been associated with other Gypsy and Traveller sites?

Residents noted that a lot of money has been spent on other sites – such as Woodburn Road – and then they have closed. Concerns were expressed about anti-social behaviour affecting local residents. There was a feeling that money had been wasted on Gypsy and Traveller facilities which then were not used.

Lyn Brandon said that Gypsy and Traveller sites are now being managed by Sheffield Homes. The PCT has found from its work that Gypsies and Travellers have much poorer health than other people and face a lot of racism. She is working on sites at Redmire and Mosborough which are very well run and where families stay for a long time. There are already Gypsies living in Darnall and they don’t cause any unusual problems.

Question: Could new bus companies be brought into Darnall? First Bus is not an adequate service provider.

The comment was noted but this is not a matter which the city council to decide.

Question: When is the regeneration of Darnall going to begin? It doesn’t seem likely in the lifetime of older people.

A resident commented that she did not wish to stereotype Gypsies and Travellers as she knew that many must be good citizens but the experience of people in Darnall had unfortunately been a lot more negative and we need to make sure that people living on sites are willing to conform to social norms and laws. Councillor Harpham said the real issue was about whether the area had the capacity to absorb a significant number of extra Gypsy and Traveller residents given the pressures on local services.

Sheffield Development Framework

Debbie Merrill from Development Services gave a presentation about the latest stage of the Sheffield Development Framework. She presented a draft of the City Policies and Sites document and Proposals Map now available for consultation and comment. The draft plan presents guidance on how the city should develop in the future and the presentation was made with particular reference to Darnall and the surrounding neighbourhoods. The documents can be read on the Council website or at Darnall Library. Comments on the draft documents can be made to: www.sheffield.gov.uk/sdfconsult or by email to sdf@sheffield.gov.uk

There is a formal six week consultation period until the 30th July. Changes will be made to the documents after the consultation. A final version will be sent to government next year and should be approved by December 2012, so we are very much at a draft stage of the process.

Question: Nothing ever seems to happen at the end of all the reviews and plans. It all seems utopian. When will we see regeneration happen?

Debbie Merrill said it is a legal function of the Council to put plans in place. However, these plans are often affected by 1,001 other issues including the economy. Maria Duffy said it is not an investment plan; it is a planning framework so that if developers come forward with proposals we can see how they might fit into the vision of what the council would like to happen in the area.

Question: Are we still going to get the new primary care clinic?

It is going through legal processes within the PCT and the Strategic Health Authority to get the necessary permissions in place.

Question: Residents of Handsworth Crescent had a battle royal, helped by Clive Betts, to get someone to remove an unauthorised scrap yard from greenbelt land. Why were planners not more aware that this was happening?

Councillor Lea said she had been reporting the issue for a long time, but the businessman concerned was very clever and it was difficult to enforce the removal of the scrap yard. Councillor Harpham said the Council cannot employ enough people to patrol all the greenbelt sites in Sheffield so we are reliant on local residents. Council officers then need to take action.

Question: We have some of the worst air pollution in the country. Could the railway bridge be widened on Prince of Wales Road to relieve the bottleneck there, which causes increased pollution?

Councillor Harpham said this was a highways issue.

Councillor Lea asked if 40% of new homes still need to be affordable housing?

Regional planning guidance has been abolished but the Council is now awaiting new national planning guidance.

Darnall Post Office

Neil Bishop gave an update about the Post Office, which will reopen soon in Darnall Forum’s premises.

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