Controversial Sheffield beer garden given long-term lease but must pay for Millhouses Park improvements
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The decision was made in a finance committee meeting this week (Aug 1) following years of “difficult” negotiations with True North Brew which owns the pub.
The owners gained permission for a beer garden at the Waggon and Horses in early 2021 despite a petition against the plans started by the Friends of Millhouses Park which wanted to keep the grassed park space, although it was unused.
The company – which also operates popular venues such as Riverside Kelham and The Broadfield – has so far operated this outdoor seating area under a series of temporary agreements.
Two out of three of these agreements were terminated by the council because of unpermitted trading.
Throughout negotiations for a long-term lease, True North promised publicly that it would contribute £20,000 towards park improvements but in this week’s meeting, Tammy Whitaker, head of regeneration and property, confirmed the company pulled out of this commitment.
Ruth Bell, head of parks and countryside services, said after losing this commitment, the council instead secured an increase in rent which will provide “substantial investment” to make a number of park improvements the Friends group said were needed.
Ms Bell said: “It’s important to say that I feel the picture I’ve painted is quite bleak and perhaps doesn’t sound very positive but we are here saying we support the idea of a lease being put in place with the Waggon and Horses.
“The process has been really long and complex and at times quite difficult negotiating the terms of this lease but we do believe as a service that this addition to the park helps to create a varied and pleasant offer to users of the park, enhancing their experience while they are in that area.”
Existing food and drink businesses in the park raised concern about the beer garden damaging their trade but in a report prepared for the meeting, council officers said the benefits outweighed the harm.
They said: “It is clear the introduction of this refreshment facility has and will continue to reduce income generated through other partners in the park. We anticipate this potentially being a short-term impact with future agreements increasing income reflecting the significant use and opportunity in Millhouses Park.”