‘It’s a bit like pouring petrol on a fire’
Plus, people power at Park Hill
Good afternoon readers — and welcome to our Monday briefing.
There has been a huge proliferation of betting shops on our high streets in recent years. In some areas — often poorer areas — it sometimes seems that every other shop is a bookmakers or amusement arcade. Despite what many people seem to think, councillors don’t actually have huge powers to block such development. However, last week a new amusement arcade proposed for Fargate was rejected after councillors and city centre residents joined forces to stop it. Why did the council reject this application and what does it say about the authority’s changing attitude to inappropriate development?
As well as that we have a beautiful Broomhill semi, a talk all about The X-Files and a nice piece about a shoe shop that’s been turned into a bar in Orchard Square.
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Catch up and coming up
In our weekend read, Dan got the assignment of a lifetime to ask if Sheffield had reached “peak craft beer”. Thankfully, the answer seems to be no. You can still read that piece here.
Last week we sent out two great newsletters to our 1,762 paying members. In the first, Victoria focused on the new political group formed by Sheffield’s Labour rebels, including former council leader Terry Fox, and asked what they plan to do next and what it could mean for Sheffield as a whole. And in the second, hot on the heels of our piece about potential katastrophe at Kommune, Dan asked why the government money Sheffield received to “level up” Castlegate still hasn’t been spent. An extract from that second piece is below.
However, despite the disappointments and delays of the last two years, Martin Gorman is clearly excited by the prospect of things happening on a site he has spent 12 years trying to bring back to life. For him the key piece of the work will be the excavation of the gatehouse, which he hopes will really give people a sense of what the castle was like in its heyday. “That’s going to be the main piece of archaeology and one thing we’d always hoped for,” he says. “It’s not been seen by anybody since the castle was demolished in the 17th century.”
This week we’ll send out two more members-only newsletters, including one about whether Sheffield city centre’s missing office workers will ever return. To help fund a new way of doing journalism based on subscriptions rather than clickbait, please subscribe using the button below. It costs just £1.34 a week or 23p a day if you pay for 12 months up front (£70).
Editor’s note: The Tribune has had a great start to the month, with 61 new members joining in less than two weeks. Victoria’s story about Kommune led to many of those, but my piece about Levelling Up funding also attracted lots of new members too. I think that shows that while people want to know where things are going wrong, they are also passionate about seeing the city improve. If you want to know about both the good and the bad of Sheffield, join The Tribune today.
The big picture: Joan of Abbeydale? 🕯️
A new mural, titled Joan of Arc, has been installed on London Road, replacing a previous portrait of England football captain Millie Bright. The new piece was painted by Chesterfield artist Elle Koziupa and her sister Sophie was the model. This picture from Twitter was taken by the Steel City Snapper. To listen to Elle talking about the mural on the BBC, click here.
This week’s weather 🌦
Our weather forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say a stormy start gives way to another autumnal mix of sunshine and showers. Some brighter and drier intervals, but colder after midweek.
Monday 🌦⚠💨 Introducing Storm Debi, with heavy rain clearing to sunshine and showers with very gusty WSW winds, easing overnight. Highs of 12°C.
Tuesday 🌦 WSW breezes moderate with sunshine and scattered showers. A better chance of drier interludes with highs again around 12°C.
Wednesday 🌦 A continuing risk of cloud and showers from the west with the best of the drier and brighter spells to the south. Breezier with highs of 10°C.
Thursday ☂️ Lighter winds but colder with cloud likely to thicken and bring outbreaks of rain by the afternoon. Highs of just 7°C.
Friday ⛅️ Drier and brighter with showers more isolated and restricted to high ground. Chance of an early frost with winds mainly light. Highs of 9°C.
Outlook: Potentially turning wet again on Saturday, though milder with sunshine and showers following for Sunday 🌦 Remaining breezy from the west or southwest.
The big story: ‘It’s a bit like pouring petrol on a fire’
Top line: Councillors have rejected a proposal to open a new betting shop in part of the city centre notorious for attracting vulnerable people. Does the decision mean that Sheffield City Council will be taking a more active role in preventing unwanted development in the future?
BBC Local Democracy Reporter Julia Armstrong reported last week on Royal Amusements’ application to open an amusement arcade at Number 9 Fargate. While beautiful and historic, the building has struggled to attract a long-term tenant for some time. It was previously used as a nail bar which lasted less than a year, and before that was a pop-up Christmas shop.
Councillors rejected the application after a four-hour hearing saying it was not consistent with the council’s licensing objectives — the prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, prevention of public nuisance and the protection of children from harm.
Royal Amusements’ representative Mohammed Ilyas argued that any moral obligations councillors might have to gambling were not relevant to licensing law. The applicant can still appeal the councillors’ decision and have 21 days in which to do so.
The proposals were opposed by the all three Green city ward councillors, the council’s director of public health Greg Fell, Peter Sephton, the chair of ChangingSheff, the city centre residents’ group, Reverend Jonathan Haigh from Victoria Hall Methodist Church and several other city centre residents. One resident was quoted as saying that allowing the arcade would be “a bit like pouring petrol on a fire”. In his evidence to the committee, Greg Fell said:
“I’m not anti-gambling, I’m anti-harm from gambling. It’s something we significantly under-address here in Sheffield and every other city in the country. This is about a highly addictive product and the way it is marketed.”
The proliferation of betting shops in Sheffield city centre has long been a source of concern. In nearby Castlegate, there are already four bookmakers (two on Haymarket, one on Fitzalan Square and one on Castle Square) plus several amusement arcades.
An application has also recently been lodged to expand the existing Bet Extra shop on Castle Square into the former Cardzone shop next door. The licensing hearing for that application will be heard later this year.
As Guardian journalist Rob Davies has shown, betting shops often tend to be clustered in areas of high deprivation. Fargate and Castlegate are well-known as part of the city centre where vulnerable people congregate.
Bottom line: Fargate is currently undergoing a £15.8 million renovation, the centrepiece of which will be Events Central, a new council-owned “cultural hub” in the former Clinton Cards building. As retail continues its long-term relocation to The Moor, the council’s new vision for Fargate is as a centre for food, drink and culture. However, landlords are understandably keen to get empty units filled as quickly as possible. Despite what many people think, councils don’t actually have huge power to control the types of development which take place in their areas. It will be interesting to see if the Fargate decision signifies a new willingness on the part of councillors to flex their muscles on licensing policy.
Home of the week 🏡
This beautifully presented four-bedroom Broomhill semi has been sensitively extended and has both off-street parking and a spacious rear garden. It is on the market for £450,000.
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Our media picks 🎧
Approval for rejigged Park Hill scheme after resident backlash 🏗️ The next phase of the long-running renovation of Park Hill flats will start in the New Year after architects Mikhail Riches secured approval to build 125 flats. A previous plan that would have seen two green fields at the complex turned into a car park was withdrawn after dozens of residents’ (myself included) complained. In the revised scheme, just one of the two green fields will be lost.
New exhibition set to transform Sheffield’s view of itself as a ‘City of Rivers’ 🏛️ Now Then previews City of Rivers, a major new exhibition which opens at Weston Park Museum later this month. The exhibition includes 300 artworks and found objects exploring how our five rivers — the Don, Sheaf, Porter, Loxley and Rivelin — have shaped the city geographically, economically and psychologically. The show opens on 24 November and lasts for a year.
How The Old Shoe is bringing a fresh drinking experience to Sheffield 🍏 A nice piece in Exposed about one of Sheffield’s newest bars — The Old Shoe in Orchard Square. Opened two months ago in the former Schuh shoe shop (hence the name), owners Mike Pomranz (formerly of The Cider Hole) and Matthew Beatty from Abbeydale Road’s The Bear say it’s already proving popular with an after work crowd looking for better drink options than a “bad pint of Peroni”.
Traffic trauma 🚗
Our new sister title the Birmingham Dispatch continues to produce some really great stuff in its first few weeks. We thought Daniel Timms’ weekend piece about the second city’s long-term love affair with the car might be interesting for Tribune readers considering Sheffield’s current arguments about low traffic neighbourhoods, the clean air zone and active travel.
Things to do 📆
Art 🖼️ On from now until 25 November is the Yorkshire Artspace’s annual members show. Autumn Almanac III features some of the most exciting work being made in Sheffield, split across their studios at Persistence Works and Exchange Place. The free show is open Thursday-Saturday from 11am-4pm. Most of the work is available to buy (card payments only), with 30% of each sale helping them provide high quality studios at affordable rates.
Talk 🛸 On Tuesday, 14 November, join academics from Sheffield Hallam University to talk about The Art of the X-Files. The cult thirty-year-old show is one of the most popular TV programmes of all time and a new anthology about it has been published this month. The talk will also look at how people who see UFOs communicate their experiences in artwork and photography. The free talk will take place in Hallam’s Owen Building at 6.30pm.
Theatre 🎭 Starting on Tuesday, 14 November at the Lyceum is STOS Theatre Company’s production of Barnum. STOS (Sheffield Teacher Operatic Society) are a local amateur dramatic company who make the world’s top musicals with people from Sheffield. Barnum is a joyful and moving musical portrait of the 19th century’s greatest showbiz legend — P. T. Barnum. The show runs until Saturday, 18 November and tickets are priced from £17-£27.