Lease drawn up for controversial beer garden in Millhouses Park after ‘difficult’ negotiations

The Waggon and Horses, Sheffield.The Waggon and Horses, Sheffield.
The Waggon and Horses, Sheffield.
Sheffield Council and True North Brew Company are set to agree a formal lease for a controversial beer garden in Millhouses Park next week following years of ‘difficult’ negotiations.

True North 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 who wanted to keep the grassed 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.

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Two out of three of these agreements were terminated by the council because of unpermitted trading but the authority said overall the park was better for having the extra business.

In a report prepared for the finance committee, which is expected to agree the formal lease next week, officers said: “Whilst the route to gaining agreement for this offer within the park have been convoluted and at times difficult, overall we believe the park offer to those people that use is better with this second facility operating.”

‘Difficult’ negotiations

True North started trading from the beer garden almost immediately when works were completed although this was not permitted under the agreement at the time.

Council officers said the small building described by True North as a serving counter was fitted out as a cafe selling tea, coffee and ice cream which sparked complaints from the park’s existing ice cream operator and nearby cafe.

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Officers said the council terminated this first agreement following unproductive negotiations with True North and its ongoing unpermitted trading.

It then offered a new temporary agreement that restricted takeaway sales which was agreed but then also terminated following reports of continuing takeaway sales.

Council officers recommended approving this new formal lease despite the problems, saying it will improve the park in the long term even though other businesses would lose money.

They said: “The lease agreement provides a fixed rental fee which is income for both Millhouses Park and the wider park network across the city.

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“However it is clear that the introduction of this refreshment facility has and will continue to reduce income that is 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.”

The lease is due to be agreed by the council’s finance committee in a meeting on Tuesday, August 1.

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