Café plan at Sheffield library set for go-ahead

Walkley Library  hub of the community
Walkley Library hub of the community
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Plans to turn Walkley Library into a shared venue featuring a café bar are expected to get the green light.

Councillors are recommended to approve proposals to revamp the building, on South Road, at a planning committee meeting this Tuesday.

The library has been led by volunteers since 2014, when Sheffield Council handed over control following budget cuts.

Under the new arrangement, book loans will continue alongside the café, which is set to be run by the True North Brew Co - formerly the Forum Group.

The proposal involves putting up a two-storey extension behind the main building, to provide a kitchen, staff facilities and toilets.

An area towards the front of the building facing South Road, currently the children’s book section, will be kept as the library.

The scheme received 15 objections.

Opponents focused on the loss of a community facility, including concerns that a bar was not compatible with a children’s library; fears over traffic congestion and a lack of parking; disabled access; noise and the effect of the refurbishment on the library building itself, which is Grade II listed.

Planning officers are recommending a series of conditions, including restricting the bar’s closing time to 11.30pm.

True North had proposed shutting at midnight.

But a report to councillors said closing at 11.30pm would ‘strike a good balance between meeting the needs of business and the needs of local residents’.

Outside seating areas for drinking, eating and smoking should only be used until 9pm, officers have also directed.

“It is considered there is a need to restrict the use of outside areas in the evening, to limit any noise dispersal to neighbouring property,” said the report.

“The use of conditions restricting access to external areas after 9pm would be suitable to ensure that disturbance is limited to an acceptable degree, when children may choose to sleep, for instance.”

True North will lease the library space back to the council, the report added.

“Contracts with the sale will ensure that the library facility is rented by the local authority with a peppercorn rent with a lease of 120 years, ensuring its long-term retention on site.”