How the demolition of shops on Devonshire Street will affect people walking and cycling

Emma Metcalfe of Cycle Sheffield and the Space for Cycling campaign today attended the Planning Meeting regarding the proposed demolition of 162-170 Devonshire Street to object to the proposed scheme. She was not allowed to speak but this is what she planned to say.

“I object to the proposed development on the grounds that it compromises a key pedestrian and cycling route to and from the city centre. The proposed accommodation does not include dedicated car parking spaces and is aimed at students therefore it is extremely likely that residents will use taxis frequently.

This will cause an obstruction on Devonshire Street with taxis waiting outside on the road like what I experience daily on outside the Central Quay Student Accommodation on Alma Street, Kelham Island. On a daily basis taxis wait outside in the road with their engines on, often double parked and blocking the way. This will create a hazard for cyclists and a less pleasant pedestrian environment for people walking. Devonshire Street is part of Sheffield City Council’s signed cycle route to Sheffield University and the west of the city and is a main transport corridor for people riding bikes as it provides a parallel route which allows cyclists to avoid cycling along the hazardous tram lines on West Street. It is also less than 100m away from National Cycle Network route 6 which runs along Division Street and through Devonshire Green, a popular leisure and tourism route.

Though some bike storage for residents has been included, it is in a communal bin storage area. This unappealing location will do nothing to encourage residents to travel by bicycle.

The development threatens to damage Devonshire Street and Division Street as a key pedestrian corridor for the same reasons, and also through reducing the appeal of the route through bland, wide shopfronts and a lack of interest. Studies by architect and liveable cities expert Jan Gehl have shown that streets that offer varied narrow shop-fronts encourage people to assemble in stark contrast to streets facades that are too bare and monotonous which encourage people to disperse. The current buildings have three distinct and visually enticing shopfronts and three doors. The proposed development would reduce this to two wider shopfronts and two doors making it less appealing to pedestrians as both a walking route and a place to spend time.

Action 3 of Sheffield City Council’s own Air Quality Action Plan 2015 is to ‘Promote Smarter Travel Choices’ and Sheffield City Council’s 2014 Cycling Inquiry endorsed the aim of the Get Britain Cycling report to see cycle use┬áincrease to 10% of all journeys in 2025 and 25% in 2050. The proposed development would negatively affect progress on these aims by threatening a key route.”

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