Plan to convert Sheffield school into 'self-sustaining' centre moves forward

Tinsley Infant School
Tinsley Infant School
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Early plans to turn a former primary school into a hub for community and enterprise are taking shape.

Sheffield Council, the Tinsley Forum and social enterprise Studio Polpo hope to bring the Tinsley Infant School building in Siemens Close back into use.

It has stood empty since pupils moved to the new Tinsley Meadows Primary Academy, which was created part ly to tackle a shortage of places in the area but also as a result of poor air quality in the area.

The council still owns and maintains the building, but as yet there is no new tenant.

So the group of three organisations, working under the name Tingas, or assembly, are now busy talking to community groups, residents and social enterprises to figure out what the old school building could become.

Mark Parsons, director of Studio Polpo, said: “We have been working with the council and Tinsley Forum to test setting it up as a community and work space for Tinsley.

The building could become a community and enterprise hub

The building could become a community and enterprise hub

“We are getting different views in to see what people in the area want from it.

“And hopefully we will have something at the end to pass on to Tinsley Forum.”

The Tingas project will run for 18 months, with the aim of getting as many ideas together as possible.

Early open days have already generated some interest, and more are planned.

Mark Parsons of Studio Polpo

Mark Parsons of Studio Polpo

Key for Mark is to make sure the people of Tinsley are fully involved.

“A lot of people who live there were born there,” he said.

“It’s quite cut off by the motorway, and there are a lot of big things nearby such as Meadowhall.

“There is not much in Tinsley because of that.

“Things for older kids and youth activities don’t really exist in that area.

“So there is quite a lot of interest in using it for those kind of activities. People are very keen to see things happen.”

The aim is for whatever the project turns into to be self-sustaining, without reliance on grant funding.

This means it cannot just be a community space.

“We are trying to bring together some primarily social enterprises and have that, and what the community is interested in,” said Mark.

“We will be looking to create a model for a sustainable local facility that can then be taken on and run by local people and organisations.

“We have some interest in the site already, including the possibility of Tinsley library moving here, but we are still open to new ideas.”

Early interest has come from a range of organisations and businesses, from children’s support services to a hydroponics-based fruit and vegetable grower.

The site comprises three buildings: a nursery, the main school building and a Portacabin with three classrooms and toilet.

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