Hallamshire Historic Buildings has launched a petition to save Sheffield City Council’s Conservation Officers.
Hallamshire Historic Buildings writes:
We are calling on Sheffield City Council to halt plans for its two part time conservation officers to lose their jobs. The proposal is that external consultants can be brought in, ad hoc, to replace the conservation officer roles. If these plans go ahead we will see big developers given little resistance as they further erode our city’s heritage.
Our conservation officers are the Council’s expert advisers on the historic environment. They assess the possible impact of planning applications, monitor the condition of Sheffield’s most important buildings, and via projects such as ‘20 by 20’ work to protect and rejuvenate buildings at risk. They have years of experience in Sheffield which cannot be simply replaced, and they know the intricacies of local planning policies that offer some protection to our historic environment. Our conservation officers are also critical to the work of the Conservation Advisory Group (CAG), a panel of professionals who give their time free of charge, which is an official consultee on planning applications that have a heritage impact.
The loss of our conservation officers could see these roles disappear. This would continue a negative trend set by the Council’s failure to protect the Old Coroner’s Court, and one cabinet member cancelling consultations for a Castlegate Conservation Area and threatening existing areas. The justification given for this was that conservation areas can act as a ‘brake on development’.
Paid consultants could be reluctant to give unwelcome advice and cost pressures may mean that some planning applications with heritage impact do not get their attention at all. It is vital that planning officers and councillors on the planning committee are given accurate, neutral advice about the heritage impact of planning applications that only dedicated conservation officers can give.
Please join us in signing this petition and spread the word!