The Waggon and Horses, Millhouses: True North Brew given green light for controversial beer garden

A controversial beer garden in a Yorkshire park has been given long-term lease - but the company behind the plans must pay for park improvements.

Sheffield Council have approved a long-term lease for the controversial beer garden in Millhouses Park – and confirmed it will come with “substantial” funding for park improvements. 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 nearby Waggon and Horses.

The owners gained permission for a beer garden at the 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.

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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.

The Waggon and Horses, Sheffield. Credit: Google Maps The Waggon and Horses, Sheffield. Credit: Google Maps
The Waggon and Horses, Sheffield. Credit: Google Maps

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.

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“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.”