Community kitchen faces uncertain future after plans submitted for landmark Sheffield hotel
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Volunteers from the Kenwood Community Growers have been using the garden for the past eight months to grow various fruit and vegetables for community projects, including Sharrow Community forum and Food Works.
However plans have been submitted to Sheffield Council to build four three-storey houses on the site of the gardens which, if approved, could mean the volunteers would have to cease operations.
They are now desperately trying to save the site from the development plans which they say would adversely affect not only those living in the area, but wildlife and the wider environment as well.
Fran Halsall, one of the volunteers, said: “The current proposal would be built directly on the gardens, taking down outbuildings and also removing several mature trees in order to fit four reasonable sizes houses onto quite a tiny space.
"It’s an old kitchen garden and has made sense to continue it as a food production site. Part of the point was to help people eat better and for less.
“It is a heritage landscape and should have protection already. It’s in the middle of the Nether Edge Conservation area, it’s green space which is being used by the public and it’s historic landscape – it’s really just an inappropriate place to put housing.”
The kitchen gardens have stood on the Kenwood Hall site since before it was used a hotel and were originally designed by Robert Marnock, one of the outstanding landscape gardeners of the 19th century.
The work that has gone into restoring it has been monumental, with volunteers initially working to clear brambles and bindweed; create growing beds; and build protective frames before they began to grow produce in the once forgotten corner.
Councillor Alison Teal, who set up Kenwood Community Growers, said that the managers at Kenwood Hall have tried to accommodate the group however this has, so far, proved to be non-viable.
She said: "The people with the most experience advised that the alternative site they offered was not viable because it didn’t get enough sunlight and also there would be numerous complications about the visual impact it would have from Kenwood Hall itself and would we need to put big shrubs in front of it. It was all pretty unworkable.
"We also had a look around the ground to look if there was another site that was viable that wasn’t the old kitchen garden, there was part of the car park at the front that got really good sunlight but it would have involved digging up a few car spaces.”
Coun Teal said she has since asked for the information to be passed to Vine Hotels – the owners of the site – and is awaiting a response.
"Meanwhile there are now 98 objections on the planning application and zero support,” she added.
To view or comment on the planning application click here.