In 2021, the Royal Oak was demolished without planning permission. The owners, Bar 24 Ltd, have recently achieved retrospective planning permission for this demolition and the redevelopment of the site. Their assertion is that toxic waste was dumped in the car park, and the situation became so bad that the only option was to demolish a building dating from 1843.
At the time, the local MP, Clive Betts, disagreed, ‘the issue of the toxic waste and chemical spills on the site is in my view a red herring. There has been a problem with toxic chemicals but the explanation from the owners that they contacted the Environment Agency about demolition does not in any way obviate the need to apply for planning permission to demolish: the two are separate issues.‘
CAMRA Sheffield & District agree with Clive. It seems that the dumped waste was used as a pretext for taking short cuts to potentially secure profitable redevelopment of the site.
The Carlton Tavern (London) sets a precedent for such unauthorised demolition. The Carlton closed in April 2015: then two days before Historic England was due to recommend the pub be granted Grade II listed status, the owners demolished the building, without planning permission. They expected a £5000 fine. However, Westminster Council had a different opinion. They ordered the owners: CTLX, to rebuild the Carlton brick by brick. In 2021, having been totally rebuilt, it re-opened.
CAMRA Sheffield & District believe that Sheffield City Council (SCC) should have taken a similar approach to that adopted by Westminster. However, following the ‘grant conditionally‘ decision of SCC Planning and Highways Committee, this is not the case.
Hence, we have written to SCC to request the reasons behind their decision:
‘A formal Enforcement Notice was not served in this case given that the owner/applicant cooperated with officers and committed to submitting a retrospective planning application for the redevelopment of the site. This is a legitimate option which was available to them. The National Planning Policy Framework advises that enforcement action is discretionary and that Local Planning Authorities must act proportionately in responding to breaches of control.
Whilst the actions of the developer are regrettable in this case, there is no comparison with the Carlton Tavern which was just about to become a designated heritage asset. In that case the developer knew that the building was about to become statutorily listed and carried on with the demolition regardless. The former Royal Oak is not in this category and the applicant had already engaged in pre-application discussions with the Council about redeveloping the site.’