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Norfolk Park residents label ring road plan "disappointing and frustrating"

Residents are fighting long-term plans to relocate the inner ring road, but Sheffield Council say the move is necessary to reduce congestion.

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An impression of what the finished scheme could look like.

Sheffield City Council.

Campaigners and residents have launched a petition against a long-term plan to move part of Sheffield's inner city ring road to the edge of Sheaf Valley Park.

The Draft Development Framework, which was approved by Cabinet in March, sets out a vision to transform the area around Sheffield Station.

It includes new pocket parks, cycle routes and a relocated tram route running along a car-free boulevard between Fitzalan Square and The Showroom.

But the £1.5bn plan would also move the ring road from the front of the station to the back where the tram currently runs. Graphics created by the Council show two lanes of traffic in each direction.

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What a redesigned Suffolk Road could look like in the future.

Sheffield City Council.

Local resident Abbie, who lives at Park Hill, told Now Then that it was "disappointing and frustrating" that the Council had published the draft framework without consulting residents.

"The Midland Station Development Framework is seemingly not backed up by any technical or needs-based evidence," she said.

"There appears to be no modelling within the document to show that the proposals will lead to a betterment in air quality in the city in line with the Council’s net zero commitments, as is claimed."

In line with many other local authorities, Sheffield Council has set a target of achieving net zero emissions in the city by 2030.

Cabinet Member for Business and Investment Mazher Iqbal told Now Then that the draft document was "not a fixed plan" and that the proposals will continue to be developed.

"To ensure our city centre continues to thrive in the future, we have to make changes to our infrastructure that will improve connectivity, air quality and active travel links, to make our transport network fit for purpose for years to come," he said.

"One of our main focuses in the framework is on improving the levels of congestion outside of the station and reducing the negative impact on air quality that this is having on the surrounding area."

"These proposals are aimed at alleviating the congestion by reducing the amount of traffic currently queuing and waiting in the vicinity," he continued.

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A plan of the proposed scheme.

Sheffield City Council.

"The suggested rerouting of the road and tram is a proposed solution at this stage, and alternative options will also be looked at when the detailed technical work is restarted."

A petition against the relocated ring road, launched by Norfolk Park resident and climate campaigner Graham Wroe, has already gathered 772 signatures.

It says that the plans will "ruin" Sheaf Valley Park and make the open-air amphitheatre, which opened in 2011, "unusable." The petition calls on the Council to avoid any new road building.

But Cllr Iqbal pointed to other parts of the masterplan that he said will improve air quality and the built environment in the area between Norfolk Park and the city centre.

These include a new landscaped bridge over the station for walkers and cyclists, as well as newly-pedestrianised districts around Granville Square and the bus station.

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Trams between Granville Road and Cathedral could one day run along Pond Street.

Sheffield City Council.

Parts of the Sheaf and Porter rivers will be opened up for better public access where they approach the culvert under the station. Park Square will also be completely redesigned, with the roundabout replaced by new flats and offices.

Campaigners and residents have welcomed parts of the plan, but want to see the ring road relocation scrapped as the project is developed."

Whilst improved walking and cycling infrastructure is obviously a huge benefit, I would like the Council to go back to the drawing board," said Abbie.

"The £1.5bn committed to this project would and should be more effectively used to support locally-led, bottom-up, climate just action which will support neighbourhood sustainability and a green recovery in the long term."

by Sam Gregory (he/him)
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