I am writing because as a lifelong Sheffielder and author of 20 years as well as a library user, I find the coverage of the council’s plans to allow developers to turn the Central Library Graves building into a 5 star hotel, somewhat biased towards the Council and people deserve the facts.
Let me say first of all that I know of no-one who is against investment and development in the city, and whilst some distrust the Council, that is not the reason for objecting to the plans. I am one of the over 10,000 who signed a petition not to turn this public space into a private enterprise. A hotel would be better situated in another part of the city and the Graves building is best renovated. I shall set out my reasons why here:
1. This is a public space in a public square accessible to all.
2. The Council attempt to appease the public by promising a new library, but I have written confirmation that the Council have no idea what that will cost.
3. The Council have not looked into renovating the building for library use and therefore cannot say that the hotel is the most wonderful vision because a far better vision might be had by preserving our heritage and civic pride.
4. The Council gave me to understand that more money is available for new builds over refurbishment. However both Liverpool and Manchester have just completed successful renovations with funding.
5. The Council should have looked at all options before accepting a proposal to do a feasibility study for a hotel in this building - why not use an empty building for that purpose?
6. There is a 4 star hotel in the same street that provides a capacity for 700 business people. If that is not adequate for the city, then there are many empty buildings in the city centre that would be more appropriate for a hotel.
7. Access to the Graves building is not suitable for increased traffic that the hotel would generate - just the number of deliveries etc for laundry/food and so on.
8. Access to the library, on the other hand would be improved by renovation and could easily include all the things a new build could.
9. Costs of renovating Liverpool was 50 million and it is amazing what they have achieved, the costs of the new build Birmingham library was 190 million. Perhaps that is why the Council are so reluctant to be open about costs.
10. A renovated library brings in visitors just as much as a new build - see increased traffic at Liverpool library.
11. We all have a duty to preserve and protect our heritage.
12. If the Council were truly open-minded it would be looking into the costs and options for refurbishment of the library before giving a nod to a feasibility study for a hotel. They would truly engage the public before giving the upper hand to a developer. Information would be publicly accessible.
So in a nutshell, we are asked to lose our public library heritage building to a private enterprise that will encroach upon the public space in Tudor Square, infringe upon the existing 4 star hotel in that street, cause traffic flow problems in an already difficult spot for traffic and have a new library that will cost millions more than a renovation but no-one knows how much. If the Council is open about this, they would also be encouraging a wonderful vision of a renovated library building. The Graves building is too precious to lose, it could become the Council;s new white elephant.
To help save the Graves building, see https://www.facebook.com/groups/217173628708330/
The Sheffield Central Library Group that I have joined.