As previously stated, we believe that the Plough should be functioning as a Community pub, with the added attraction of its key place in the history of world football. A small internal museum would not be inappropriate. However, the Plough continues to be under threat.
The planning saga commenced when the previous owners, Enterprise Inns (Ei), decided to deliberately run-down their historically important asset before closure in 2015. Since then, there has been no serious maintenance work. Ei and the subsequent owners, Spacepad Construction Ltd., have left the pub to rot. Planning law places responsibility for the condition of the site with the current owner. By law, the building should have been maintained in a fit and proper condition for its current permitted use as a public house.
The site has deteriorated to such an extent that some local residents claim it is an ‘eyesore.’ These concerns are currently the subject of a Planning Enforcement enquiry regarding the unauthorised use of the site as a waste disposal facility and a storage site for unregistered vehicles. An Enforcement Notice has been recommended. Sheffield CC should issue a requirement for the building, and site, to be reinstated to the condition it was in at the time of purchase from Ei. At that point, an independent report, commissioned by the Plough Community Benefit Society Ltd., demonstrated that, in order for the pub to reopen, no major building work was required and that internal refitting costs were manageable within a realistic business plan. If the owners fail to reinstate the property, the Council should exercise its power to compulsorily purchase in order to avoid further deterioration.
The additional material recently submitted to the planning application by the applicant is essentially a re-mix of previously submitted documents, including correspondence concerning the marketing of the Plough and the exorbitant, and unrealistic, rental valuation of £50,000 per annum. The additional material does not demonstrate continuous marketing of the Plough at a realistic valuation as required by widely agreed criteria such as CAMRA’s Viability Test.
The recent planning history of a site is also a relevant consideration in planning decisions. In 2017, the local authority rejected Sainsbury’s application for change of use based on the Plough’s listing as an ACV and it accepted that there were no alternative community facilities within a reasonable distance. In 2018, following the sale of the Plough, the local authority re-listed the pub as an ACV. As there have been no material changes in the reasons why the Plough was listed as an ACV, this should remain an overriding consideration in any decision.
The closing date for comments regarding the latest planning application is 28th.January 2020: www.sheffield.gov.uk/planning reference: 19/02130/FUL
The pub is adjacent to the ground of Hallam FC (the 2nd.oldest football club in the world). Hallam occupy Sandygate, the oldest football ground in the world, the site of the first football game (Hallam v Sheffield FC) as recognised by FIFA. The Plough should be allowed to return as both a community pub and a key player in the developing Sheffield Football History experience.
Dave Pickersgill, Pub Heritage Officer