Pop-up park and cafe to open in Sheffield city centre this summer

Urbo director Andy Dainty at the Love Square pocket park.
Urbo director Andy Dainty at the Love Square pocket park.
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The firm behind a £175 million Sheffield development is working with a city university to complete a pop-up park ready for the summer.

Chesterfield-based Urbo - which got planning approval for its mixed use West Bar Square scheme in February - and the University of Sheffield have together designed a temporary space to liven up an area of wasteland by the crown court.

Work on the park, to be known as Love Square, began last year and was put on hold over the winter.

But trees have now been planted and a cafe made of shipping containers will soon be installed on the site.

Urbo director Andy Dainty said the aim was to create a better atmosphere for the thousands of workers in the riverside area and those passing between the city centre and Kelham Island or the Wicker.

"The whole West Bar Square site is derelict but Love Square was letting the side down in terms of Grey to Green," he said.

Love Square should be finished by the summer.

Love Square should be finished by the summer.

"We have already spent a great deal of money on West Bar Square generally. This is not seen as about making profit. It's really about creating some activity, and also a theme of sustainability."

The university's professor Nigel Dunnett, who worked with the city council on the Grey to Green planting scheme in West Bar, has taken charge of the landscaping of Love Square.

"We were very keen that the university stepped in with the design," said Andy. "Nigel Dunnett has led that and he's something of an international name in temporary landscaping.

"It's a good example of what we can do in an urban space on a temporary basis."

The park is designed to be temporary.

The park is designed to be temporary.

The temporary nature of the park is key. Urbo has planning permission for a larger permanent building on the Love Square site. But if the park proves successful, it can be relocated elsewhere in West Bar Square.

"We could pick the cafe up and have it somewhere else," said Andy.

"The containers are designed to be portable. It looks well-built, but that was part of the design."

A deal with an independent city cafe operator is being finalised, and if all goes to plan Love Square will open this summer. Urbo hopes it will give people a reason to visit West Bar.

How the finished park could look.

How the finished park could look.

"People are increasingly coming down here," said Andy. "The footfall to and from Kelham Island is notable. There are 5,000 jobs locally.

"When we did the public consultation for West Bar Square the thing we heard over and over again was that there was not enough to do. Part of the job is to fill that gap and provide services to serve the riverside area."

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Andy Dainty with the West Bar Square plans.

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