Rose Garden Cafe: Graves Park building scaffolding has cost Sheffield Council £111k

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The scaffolding being used to prop up the Rose Garden Cafe in Graves Park for just under a year has cost Sheffield City Council £111k.

The figure was revealed in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request made to the council by the Friends of Graves Park, who were part of a successful campaign to save the cafe. The request is available to view on the website www.whatdotheyknow.com

The cafe was closed suddenly by the council in July 2022 after surveys of the building revealed some structural issues. The building was partly reopened last December after extensive scaffolding and propping was put in place.

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The possibility that the building, which now has a local heritage listing, might be condemned resulted in a public outcry and the launch of the group Save the Rose Garden Cafe, who joined forces with the Friends group. More than 10,000 people signed an e-petition calling for the building to be repaired, not demolished.

Images from a Sheffield City Council report on the Rose Garden Cafe at Graves Park, showing damage to the structureImages from a Sheffield City Council report on the Rose Garden Cafe at Graves Park, showing damage to the structure
Images from a Sheffield City Council report on the Rose Garden Cafe at Graves Park, showing damage to the structure

Both organisations are now involved in working alongside the city council to look at how best the building, which is a valued local social hub, can be renovated and fully reopened. The first meeting has taken place, led by an independent chair.

The decision to shelve any demolition or replacement plans and set up the community partnership group was made at a meeting of the council’s charity trustee sub-committee last month. The sub-committee acts as the council’s trustee for all land and buildings given to the city by charitable trusts.

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The FOI request asked what is the monthly cost of the scaffolding and propping inside and outside the Rose Garden Café, how much it is costing a month to keep the scaffolding in place and what is the total amount paid.

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Partial reopening of the Rose Garden Cafe in Graves Park, Sheffield in December 22. Picture: Andy Kershaw Partial reopening of the Rose Garden Cafe in Graves Park, Sheffield in December 22. Picture: Andy Kershaw
Partial reopening of the Rose Garden Cafe in Graves Park, Sheffield in December 22. Picture: Andy Kershaw

The council’s response said: “The interior and exterior scaffolding to Rose Garden Café was initially hired for 12 weeks from December 2022.

“The total cost of installing and hiring the scaffolding for this 12-week period was £61,008. This included the costs for the legally required weekly inspections.

“After the initial 12-week hire, it was determined that the scaffold would need to be in place for a substantial period. The scaffolding supplier quoted £6,800 per month to continue hiring the scaffolding.

“We asked the supplier to allow us to purchase the scaffold instead. The supplier was unwilling to sell the scaffolding but agreed that we could pay a one-off hire fee of £50,000, allowing us to hire the scaffolding for the durationof the project.

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Campaigners celebrating the Rose Garden Cafe partial reopening in December 2022. Sheffield City Council is now setting up a partnership to work with the community to restore the Graves Park building. Picture: Andy Kershaw Campaigners celebrating the Rose Garden Cafe partial reopening in December 2022. Sheffield City Council is now setting up a partnership to work with the community to restore the Graves Park building. Picture: Andy Kershaw
Campaigners celebrating the Rose Garden Cafe partial reopening in December 2022. Sheffield City Council is now setting up a partnership to work with the community to restore the Graves Park building. Picture: Andy Kershaw

“Upon project completion the scaffolding would be returned to the supplier.

“The £50,000 did not include for the weekly inspection costs and the scaffolding supplier undertook two further inspections of the scaffolding on 29/05/23 and 05/06/23 at the cost of £300.

“The total paid to the scaffolding supplier is £111,308.

“Since 05/06/23, we have undertaken the mandatory inspections costing £26.17 per inspection, totalling £197.23 to date.

“The total spent on the scaffolding to date is £111,505.23.”

In response to a follow-up question, the council said that the cost has been funded by its facilities management revenue budget, and not the Graves Park Charity.