Sheffield Container Park: storage row now looms after move from Fargate

The delay-hit Sheffield Container Park on Fargate has caused another controversy over possible plans to store the containers at a city park.
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The Friends of Graves Park are worried that the containers, which are due to move off Fargate to make way for building work to start on music venue Event Central, will be stored on land at Norton Nursery that they hope will become part of the park.

Chair of the friends group Caroline Dewar has written to Sheffield City Council leader Coun Terry Fox. He also chairs the strategy and resources policy committee which is due to make a decision on the future of the containers at its meeting next Tuesday (January 24).

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The option being recommended to the committee is to remove the containers from Fargate to a storage location and develop plans to use them for a different purpose, either with community groups or to improve facilities in parks or outdoor activity locations. That could mean the containers being used for toilet or catering facilities.

Sheffield Container Park on Fargate - the Friends of Graves Park are worried that storing the containers at Norton Nursery will cut across their plans to make the site into parklandSheffield Container Park on Fargate - the Friends of Graves Park are worried that storing the containers at Norton Nursery will cut across their plans to make the site into parkland
Sheffield Container Park on Fargate - the Friends of Graves Park are worried that storing the containers at Norton Nursery will cut across their plans to make the site into parkland

The container park was branded a ‘bit of a shambles’ by one councillor after the opening of the temporary home to independent shops, a bar and a food outlet was beset by delays and problems.

‘Charitable parkland’

Caroline Dewar wrote to Coun Fox to register the group’s “extreme concern at the suggestion that the shipping containers, currently on Fargate, might, for any reason whatsoever, be stored at the Norton Nursery part of Graves Park, which as you know, the Friends are still waiting for permission to restore back to parkland.”

She added: “Please remember that this is charitable parkland, which should only be used in the best interests of Graves Park and that storage of these containers would be in violation of the original conveyance.”

Norton Nursery at Graves Park, Sheffield - the park Friends group have objected to the possibility that the containers from Sheffield Container Park will be stored thereNorton Nursery at Graves Park, Sheffield - the park Friends group have objected to the possibility that the containers from Sheffield Container Park will be stored there
Norton Nursery at Graves Park, Sheffield - the park Friends group have objected to the possibility that the containers from Sheffield Container Park will be stored there
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She quoted a council response in December to a Freedom on Information question from the friends group, which stated: “The Norton Nurseries part of Graves Park is designated charitable parkland as is the rest of the land held on trust. It is not and has never been designated “depot land” as no such legal designation exists as far the Council is aware in the context of the laws of trusts.

“The Trustee SCC has not decided to renege on the decision to restore the site to parkland. The council is continuing to look for alternative solutions to all its operational facilities and Norton Nurseries is being considered in this review.”

Temporary use

The Rose Garden Cafe at Graves Park in SheffieldThe Rose Garden Cafe at Graves Park in Sheffield
The Rose Garden Cafe at Graves Park in Sheffield

It said that the land was being used temporarily for maintenance of the park.

Ms Dewar wrote: “We expect the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee, along with the Communities Parks and Leisure Policy Committee and the Charity Trustee Sub-committee, to accept the response from Sheffield City Council’s Freedom of Information Department and ensure that in all their decisions regarding Norton Nursery, they act within the above statement, therefore the containers should not under any circumstances appear in Norton Nursery.”

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The friends group has also been working alongside the Save the Rose Garden Cafe campaign to ensure that the popular park building, which has now temporarily reopened, will be retained in future.

The cafe closed last July when the council reacted to a surveyor’s report expressing concern over the safety of the building. The friends group has commissioned its own independent surveyor’s report to assess the building.