Grade II-listed swimming baths and library in Sheffield in line for cash boost to fund urgent repairs

A community centre in Sheffield hopes to carry out urgent repairs on its Grade II-listed home using a much-needed cash boost.

Thursday, 11th January 2018, 1:31 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th January 2018, 5:00 pm
Matthew Dean outside the Zest Centre

Zest occupies the grand red brick buildings on the corner of Daniel Hill and Upperthorpe Road, from where it offers an extensive range of services, from exercise classes to employment support, to people of all ages.

But leaky roofs at the Victorian premises, which contain the city's first branch library, a swimming pool, two gyms and a café, desperately need patching up, at an estimated cost of £200,000.

Urgent repairs are needed to roofs at the Grade II-listed buildings

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Things are looking up for the charity, however, after Sheffield Council agreed to grant it a new long-term lease and to sell empty council-owned buildings, previously occupied by Zest, to raise money for the repairs and other work.

Matthew Dean, chief executive at Zest, said: "The agreement to extend and transfer the Zest Centre lease to Zest alongside proposed capital ring-fencing in the region of £130,000 from the sale of 54-56 Upperthorpe Road is a sign of how much the council values the Zest Centre as a vital community hub, providing accessible services to help improve community well-being and enhance community cohesion.

"This decision will act as a catalyst for securing a wider investment package to refurbish this much loved Victorian grade II listed building, a key piece of the city’s cultural heritage, housing the city’s first branch library, which dates back to the 1870s. A wider package of funding will allow us to carry out urgent roof repairs, create more high quality spaces, and in doing so, help futureproof this wonderful, eclectic community space.

"As we prepare our business case, we will be exploring a range of options in the months ahead, to attract further investment including social investment and crowdfunding."

Urgent repairs are needed to roofs at the Grade II-listed buildings

Cabinet members voted last month to approve the new lease and auction off properties to raise funds for Zest.

Nearly £4 million has been invested in the Zest Centre buildings since the council granted a 30-year lease in 2002 to the Upperthorpe & Netherthorpe Healthy Living Centre Trust, as Zest was then known.

But without further repairs, a council report warned, offices within the building which Zest lets to generate income would become unusable.

The council said a longer lease would make it easier for Zest to secure external funding from other sources, which would be needed with council funding for the centre likely to continue to decline.