Doubt over £1.3 million Sheffield library transformation after bar company pulls out

Plans for a £1.3 million transformation of a Sheffield library have been cast into doubt after the company hoping to add a café and bar to the site withdrew from the project.

Kane Yeardley, managing director of True North Brew Co, said the company had reluctantly withdrawn from the project, despite incurring ‘significant costs’ through their involvement.

Walkley Library.

Walkley Library.

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He said: “It is with regret that we have announced our withdrawal from the plan to rejuvenate Walkley Library in conjunction with local groups and Sheffield City Council.

“In 2012, I was dismayed by the possibility of seeing libraries closing down due to lack of funding and began to imagine a new type of model that would see a commercial enterprise help to support a vital community asset.”

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Chris Beech.

Chris Beech.

True North, which runs a number of pubs across the city including The Forum and The Devonshire, was granted planning permisssion to add a café and bar to the library, on the corner of South Road, despite objections from those living near the site.

The library, which has been run by volunteers since 2014, was also the subject of plans to build a two storey rear extension with a mezzanine, in conjunction with Walkley Carnegie Library charity.

Mr Yeardley said: “Along with Chris Reece and all the members of the Walkley Carnegie Library group we have been successful in securing £90,000 of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to take the project onto the next stage and towards the end goal of raising £1.3m to complete the project.

“Despite the significant costs incurred by us I feel that now is the best time for us to halt our involvement so the commercial aspect can be reviewed and new partnerships investigated if appropriate. There is a great team of people still working on the project and I wish them all the best for the future.”

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Chris Beech, of Beeches of Walkley, said business were ‘worried’ about the possible impact the announcement could have on trade and footfall.

He said: “I have been talking to businesses for the last couple of years and a lot have been hoping that something would happen with the library.

“It's been the quietest year I have known on South Road so I just hope that someone else can take it on.

“It’s extremley quiet at the minute and some businesses have actually come to Walkley because of the library plans so it’s going to be quite worrying times until we find out what’s happening.”