Group committed to providing ‘vibrant community hub’ after bar company pulls out of Sheffield library plans

Dedicated volunteers at a Sheffield library say they remain committed to creating a ‘vibrant community hub’ despite a £1.3 million café and bar project being scrapped.

Walkley Carnegie Library was due to be transformed as part of a deal with True Brew North Co but the company announced it had ‘reluctantly’ withdrawn from the project.

Walkley Library

Walkley Library

Now, the volunteers who saved the Grade-II listed facility three years ago, said they remained determined to continue to provide for the community..

Chris Reece, WCL, chairman, said the group was ‘disappointed’ that the café and bar plans would no longer be part of the transformation but added talks were continuing with Sheffield Council and Heritage Lottery Fund about further grant funding.

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He said: “It was with regret that we announced at our annual general meeting the withdrawal from the project of True North Brew Company (TNBC).

“This plan has been under discussion for nearly four years and led to the successful bid for the initial development grant, and it is disappointing that this route cannot now be continued.

“This means that the original café/pub restaurant will no longer feature as part of the new library plans.

“We have continued to talk with the HLF and Sheffield Council on ways that we can proceed with the next stage of the bid by returning to our initial business plan and taking into consideration the way that we have steadily evolved and expanded our services and activities.”

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Mr Reece said the new plan will involve fewer major alterations and see more of the library space retained.

He added: “Any partnership faces difficulties when bound by the strict criteria of grant funding and therefore the process can take longer than may be expected by commercial operators.

“Both partners in this case worked closely together and with SCC to create a new model for the library and we were all pleased to have received an HLF Enterprise grant to develop the ideas.

“However, building on the successful running of the library for nearly four years, WCL will continue with the bid, incorporating an exciting activity plan which will be based around the conservation of the building to create opportunities for more community engagement.”

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Mr Reece said the group would look towards submitting a bid for further funding in March and added WCL was keen to hear from other businesses and organisations who might want to get involved in the project.

He added: “We have been revisiting our original business plan and are looking at the most appropriate ways of retaining our services and space, whilst also looking to create a vibrant community hub which will bring new business opportunities to South Road.

“We are therefore pressing forward towards our bid submission in March building on our strengths, and through our HLF project team carrying out extensive local consultation in order to present the strongest possible case to the HLF.”

For more information or if you would like to get involved in the project email newlease@walkleylibrary.org.uk.