Staircase 'public safety risk' could stop new Sheffield restaurant opening

The new restaurant is planned for the former NUM building in Sheffield
The new restaurant is planned for the former NUM building in Sheffield
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Plans for a Caribbean-themed restaurant in the former NUM building in Sheffield may be rejected on the grounds of ‘public safety’ – because waiters and customers might share a staircase.

The Turtle Bay chain wants to open a new restaurant in the ex-National Union of Mineworkers building on Holly Street in the city centre, which is undergoing a £5 million redevelopment.

A Turtle Bay restaurant in Leeds

A Turtle Bay restaurant in Leeds

But health protection officials at Sheffield Council have objected to the proposal due to concerns over the intended layout of the restaurant.

Environmental health officer Sean Gibbons said current plans for waiters to go up a staircase to serve diners sitting on a mezzanine level was an issue.

Mr Gibbons warned: “This proposal will not be accepted by this department due to the risks of conflict between staff transporting food and members of the public accessing the toilets and mezzanine level.”

Turtle Bay bosses say they operate six restaurants across the country with similar layouts without problems.

An impression of what the redeveloped NUM building will look like

An impression of what the redeveloped NUM building will look like

Angie Newton-Smith, from Fusion Design and Architecture which is assisting Turtle Bay’s application, said the restaurant chain runs six other sites around the country where food is taken up and down staircases to customers.

“Existing Turtle Bay sites where food is currently transported up/down staircases include Bath, Bournemouth, Bristol, Leicester, Manchester and Walthamstow,” she said.

A hearing by councillors to determine whether the premises licence should be granted is due to take place on Tuesday.

A £5m revamp of the NUM building is currently taking place as the landmark building, which has stood empty for a quarter of a century, is transformed into offices and three restaurants.

Turtle Bay opening night in Preston

Turtle Bay opening night in Preston

Accountancy firm Grant Thornton is to take up all the office space when the building opens, with bar chain Pitcher and Piano signed up to occupy one of the three-ground floor restaurant units.

Turtle Bay did not wish to comment on the situation prior to Tuesday’s hearing.

The fast-growing restaurant chain first opened in Milton Keynes in 2010 and now has more than 30 branches across the country, including cities like Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool.

The business is the concept of Aj Jaya-Wickrema, who co-founded the Las Iguanas Mexican-themed restaurant chain.

The Turtle Bay restaurant in Leeds

The Turtle Bay restaurant in Leeds

Turtle Bay promises customers ‘a uniquely Caribbean experience’ serving food like jerk chicken and drinks such as rum cocktails.

The licensing hearing is scheduled to take place at 10am at Sheffield Town Hall, with councillors able to decide whether to grant the premises a licence, allow it with conditions or reject the application.

Quest Property, part of the Barnsley-based Brook Group, has been approved for a £2.7m loan administered by the Local Enterprise Partnership and the European Union for the redevelopment of the NUM building where the restaurant may be based.

It has also been approved by Sheffield Council for a £1.1m grant from the Government.

The firm is bringing its own money to create a £5m pot for the redevelopment of the site.

Development director Matthew Stephens said the development is on course for opening in spring next year.

He said there is ‘good interest’ from a number of companies in taking on the third restaurant.

He said he was unable to comment on the licensing hearing situation.

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