Revamp of Sheffield's Central Library a 'priority project' - as estimate hits £30m - says council chief

‘All funding options will be explored’ to revamp Sheffield’s Central Library - at an estimated cost of up to £30m - a council chief says.

The deputy leader, Councillor Julie Grocutt, said the library and Graves Art Gallery on the top floor were a cornerstone of Tudor Square and ‘culturally, historically and economically important to the city’.

She added: “We must ensure it not only meets, but exceeds its potential as a place which celebrates art, literature and Sheffield’s rich history.

“It is a priority project, and we are exploring how we can build a vision together that will attract national funding that significantly contributes to the regeneration of our amazing city.”

Coun Julie Grocutt. Picture Scott Merrylees

She responded after Sheffield museums boss Kim Streets called for ‘investment and a plan’ for the Grade II-listed building on Surrey Street.

The gallery reopens on Friday, September 3 after 18 months closed and following a £455,000 revamp.

But remedial work on the main building has yet to start despite it being listed in 2003 - when the cost was estimated at £10m. Today Hallamshire Historic Buildings puts the figure closer to £30m.

Coun Grocutt said cost estimates varied depending on different levels of work.

Museums Sheffield chief executive Kim Streets at Graves Art Gallery as it prepares to reopen to the public.

She added: “The lower figure (reported at £10m) relates to estimated costs associated with addressing the work necessary to maintain and ensure such a historic building can continue to be used as the city’s main library and art gallery in its current format.

“Current updates estimate that this is actually closer to £13-14m.

“The higher figure (reported at £30m) was an estimate from 2017, relating to the possible investment required to transform the building into a dynamic cultural hub.

“In agreeing the plans and next steps that we have committed to this year, all funding options will be explored as part of the work the Culture Collective Strategy highlighted as a priority for the city.”

The Central Library and Graves Art Gallery in Sheffield, where the council says 'all funding options will be explored’ for the planned revamp. Picture: Dean Atkins

In the last two years the building has had to close after problems including with heating, lighting and leaks.

Graves Gallery has undergone six months of work to redecorate and re-clad walls largely untouched since 1934. New displays will be created, with a third of artworks brought out of storage.

The project, which forms the gallery’s first major redisplay in 10 years, was made possible by funding of £455,000 from the Ampersand Foundation.

Local journalism holds the powerful to account and gives people a voice. Please take out a digital subscription or buy a paper.

Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.