The Sheffield-based developers of a £35m project to regenerate a site on Ecclesall Road say they may be forced to take their investment to other cities unless they receive a more positive response from the council.
They are seeking “urgent” talks with the authority in the wake of planning officers’ objections to a scheme for private and student apartments and retail units.
After extensive negotiations with the council, Hallminster Ltd was shocked to discover at late notice that officers will recommend that councillors on the planning committee reject the application tomorrow.
The company is anxious to rescue the scheme. But Dan Simpson, of Hallminster, said: “Should it not be possible to move forward, we will look to prioritise projects in Leeds and Manchester, which are more open to investment.
“We don’t want to do this. Being Sheffield based, we are keen to invest here, but we may be left with no option.”
At stake are 300 jobs during the construction phase and 100 plus permanent jobs.
The proposed development is for a former car dealership site between Summerfield Street and Pear Street, near the old Wards Brewery.
It includes about 120 apartments for single people, couples and families, and 44 high quality student apartments, along with ground floor shops and other commercial outlets. Architects are award-winning Sheffield firm Bond Bryan.
Council planners say that although they accept the regeneration benefits of the scheme, one of four proposed blocks, at 12 storeys, is too high for its surroundings, even though permission has previously been granted for a similar height block on a neighbouring site.
Hallminster point out that many residents and business representatives who attended a day-long exhibition found the designs to be imaginative and in keeping with the area.
Now the company fears it is being given too little time to respond to council concerns.
Mr Simpson said: “We were only given three days’ notice prior to the application being recommended for refusal at the planning committee, so we have been unable to respond as we would like.
“We are looking at various options moving forward, potentially asking for the decision to be deferred.”
“Urgent meetings are being sought with more senior council figures so that this high quality scheme can still be delivered.
“We are disappointed with the planning officers’ attitude given the amount of time and effort to address all queries only for them to base their decision on a single issue.”
Mr Simpson added that public consultation prior to submitting the application was “overwhelmingly positive” and, ironically, the planners’ recommendation had come on the day Bond Bryan had received another prestigious award for its work.
The development is due to be managed by MAF Properties, who have been providing student and private housing in Sheffield for 25 years.
The developers still hope that construction on Ecclesall Road can start in autumn 2015 ready for the first residents in summer 2017.