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New threat to Rare & Racy site

Developers have abandoned plans to replace the 1827 home of a much-loved community bookshop with a like-for-like replacement, and have instead put forward a completely different design.

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The rejected proposals for the Rare & Racy site submitted by Primesite UK.

A developer has submitted a new planning application for the former home of Rare & Racy, showing they have abandoned longstanding plans for a like-for-like replacement of the building.

In May, Now Then reported how the Devonshire Street buildings have remained empty five years after developer Primesite UK were granted permission to demolish them in 2015.

Now a new application has been submitted for a completely different design, on the basis that the principle of demolishing the existing building has already been set by the previous application. The new proposals are for a four-storey office block without individual shops on street level.

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The proposal for a like-for-like replacement, granted to Primesite UK in 2015.

"Given the planning history of the Site, the demolition of the existing buildings is expected to play a large role, especially in the eyes of the public," write agents Urbana Town Planning in the application, acknowledging the public outcry in 2015.

"However, though [sic] the previous permission the demolition of the existing building has already been established."

The site covers three small units at the end of Devonshire St dating from 1827, which Hallamshire Historic Buildings have described as an "important and much loved row of buildings."

After opening in 1969 and establishing itself at the heart of Sheffield's counterculture, Rare & Racy was forced out in July 2017 after the landlord won permission to redevelop the site.

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Rare & Racy closed in July 2017. Rare & Racy closed in July 2017.

At the time of the first application 21,936 people signed a petition to save the building and the bookshop, which Jarvis Cocker told The Guardian it would be "a crime to destroy."

In 2015 the Council's Deputy Leader said their "hands were tied" due to strict planning laws, and that if the Council tried to block the application they could end up facing huge legal bills.

Conservation campaigners applied for a Judicial Review of the case, which was rejected.

The agents for the previous application in 2015 were listed as CODA Planning, who told Now Then in May this year that they were "no longer involved" in the site.

But Urbana Town Planning's website shows that the company's founder, Adam Murray, was also a founder of CODA Planning.

The directors of Primesite UK, which is based on Cemetery Road, are listed on Companies House as being Michael John Nelson, David Earnest Hinchliffe and David Scott Hinchliffe.

Primesite UK and Urbana Town Planning have both been approached for comment.

by Sam Gregory (he/him)
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