Bar plans could energise old Sheffield substation

The disused electricity substation on Brown Lane
The disused electricity substation on Brown Lane

An old electricity substation in Sheffield city centre could be transformed into a bar and restaurant with outdoor seating.

There are plans to convert the disused substation on Brown Lane, near Charles Street, into Watt Bar which developers hope will be “a beating heart of Sheffield’s Cultural Industries Quarter”.

Partnering with Sheffield Hallam University, the venue would allow students and young people to host their own nights as well as regular events.

Developers say the venue will “offer fun and exciting events” tailored to different customers throughout the week and serve “chip and dip” food.

But several residents living in nearby Butcher Works have objected. They say the Cultural Industries Quarter Conservation Area is an increasingly residential area and the venue will be out of character.

They are worried the late night opening – until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays – will lead to noise, particularly from the outdoor seating.

Residents, who are supported by Coun Douglas Johnson, say Butcher Works is a listed building and doesn’t have double glazing to help soundproof or air conditioning, which means windows need to be open in summer.

They add that Hallam Union events have been noisy, including an outdoor area around Arundel Street, Charles Street and the Science Park which amplifies noise.

Architects Oulsnam Design say Watt Bar will employ around 15 members of staff, both full and part-time, all paid above the average rate of similar venues.

In a statement, Oulsnam Design say: “Collaborative working and non-exploitative conditions are at the heart of Watt Bar’s core values.

“The renovated substation will attract a varied mix of people to the area and its design features inside and out will create a talking point to hopefully attract further visitors to the quarter and help give the district a further sense of purpose and completion as other areas within Sheffield city centre now benefit from.

“It is positioned perfectly to compliment the variety of activities Sheffield has to offer, being so close to the theatres, cinemas and entertainment venues. Watt Bar aims to satisfy a vast array of local and tourist customers.”

Officers are recommending councillors approve the plans at a meeting next Tuesday.

They say the outdoor seating would provide some “welcome activity” in the street scene and improve the appearance of the site from Charles Street.

They acknowledge that a late night venue has the potential to be disturb residents but say planning conditions would control noise.

In a report, officers say: “When leaving the premises after closing, customers could disperse in a number of directions, up or down Charles Street, Arundel Street and Arundel Lane, or across the car park opposite.

“It is not considered likely that congregations of customers would lead to prolonged noise that would unacceptably disturb local residents.”