Council's delayed Sheffield Container Park plan sparks criticism that it is a 'waste of money'
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A contractor working on the £15m revamp of Fargate – due to start in March – said they had been told Sheffield City Council’s commercial Container Park scheme would be taken down in the New Year, even though a council spokeswoman said there was no confirmed date.
But the potentially short trading period is a fresh embarrassment after a string of expensive delays since the Container Park had originally been due to open in July and has suffered several postponed start dates including Monday, October 24, sparking a backlash from concerned residents.
Some Sheffield Star readers believe the project – featuring shops, food vendors, a bar and big screen - has been a ‘waste of money’ and feel the money could have been better spent supporting existing businesses and those expected to suffer during the ‘cost of living crisis’.
Amber Elaine Violet said: “People can’t afford to live and the council are wasting money on something temporary when they could be helping small businesses create something in existing buildings that might actually improve local living by giving people more job opportunities and places to visit that can’t be found at Meadowhall.”
Several businesses have moved into the Container Park and are ready to trade but assuming it opens imminently they could have just over two months before having to pack up.
Christine Mary McCloskey said: “What a waste of money why couldn't the empty shops have been used instead of putting these containers up. The money should have been used for more important things like housing and school repairs.”
The development has also forced traditional Fargate Christmas attractions - the Alpine Bar, big wheel and market stalls - to relocate to The Moor.
Alisa Partington said: “The roads they redid are already crumbling, there are weeds and unswept gutters everywhere which makes the city look tatty, and yet they find money to fund free events and this container debacle.”
The revamp of Fargate, which is expected to start in early 2023, will see the pedestrian zone re-paved in long strips to minimise disruption and this includes the area where the container units stand.
Denise Shepherd said: “I think Sheffield City Council need to put the money elsewhere, like housing repairs”, and Sally Anne Wareham said: “Just another one of Sheffield City Council’s ‘finest’ examples of wasting money.”
A Sheffield City Council spokeswoman said they were working with operator Steelyard Kelham to obtain information so the Container Park can open. It is understood to be a fire safety certificate that is needed.
The latest postponed opening follows an earlier delay when Yorkshire Water said the development could damage a sewer, leading to the eight shipping containers being shifted a few feet to the right.
Bryan Connolly said: “Sheffield Council can't even plan it to avoid collapsing sewers”, and concerning the Container Park he added that the council has put the Container Park in an area planned for redevelopment in several months. Mr Connolly also said: “Half a million quid and it may not even be open that long.”
And David O’Brien said: “We have them in London but not in the middle of a high street - bad planning and waste of resources once again from Sheffield City Council.”
The council bought the units with cash from the Get Britain Building Fund and four of the original six vendors pulled out and were replaced by other local independents.
Steve Platts said: “Whoever is in charge of sorting this out needs to be sacked. This has been a complete unprecedented disaster. And that’s not even taking it’s eye watering cost into consideration.”
Richard Eyre, director of streetscene and regulations at the council, announced the Container Park would not be opening as planned on October 24.
He said: “Unfortunately, our building control teams are awaiting technical information from the operator. Until the outstanding information is received the container park cannot open. This information is national legislation needed for any building and the operator is legally required to provide it before the attraction can be opened to the public.”