Fundraisers raising money to renovate the much-loved Rose Garden Cafe in Graves Park as council criticised
Caroline Dewar of the Friends of Graves Park (FOGP) said the group are “very disappointed” no firm plan is in place just over a year after Sheffield City Council closed the cafe over concerns for its structural safety.
She said: “The Friends are very disappointed that, a year after the cafe was forced to close and after we finally managed to get our independent survey done in January, we are not really any further forward. The cafe is still open as a takeaway only, but is still full of scaffolding.
“We will continue to press for renovation and as soon as the option to renovate is confirmed and a positive option agreed, we will continue applying for funding. In the meantime, we now have over £8,366 in our campaign fund.”
Fundraiser David Hartlebury has organised two walks to raise funds on August 19 and September 3. Anyone who wants to join in or donate can find further details on the FOGP website at https://friendsofgravespark.org/home-page/the-rose-garden-cafe/ or at the Just Giving fundraising page, https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/RoseGardenCafeGravesPark .
Caroline added: “Our intrepid walker, David, and his fellow walkers raised over £800 with his sponsored round walks in May. He is doing more walks in Sheffield at the end of August and will be continuing his efforts for the cafe restoration in the months to come.
“We still have our surveyor who is giving advice and attending meetings with us. We also have a chartered architect, with considerable experience in working with old buildings, who is helping us with proposed plans for renovation.
“Our surveys show that the roof is not falling in but requires attention, as does the front wall, but it is not as bad as the council’s surveys suggest. Until and unless the council is prepared to check for movement in the front wall, we will find it difficult to make progress. This is hard to understand, as the council supports action which would be very expensive.”
She added: “The council reluctantly agreed in August 2022 to allow the FOGP to commission an independent survey. Permission to allow the survey to take place was not given until the end of December 2022, so was not done until January 2023.
“The council commissioned their own independent survey in August of 2022, which recommended monitoring movement of the front wall, however, this was not done. The roof space was only surveyed once the FOGP insisted on this being done as part of their survey.
“Unfortunately, before the FOGP surveyors were given permission to conduct their survey, the extensive scaffolding inside and outside the building was put in place, making some access to parts of the building very difficult or impossible for the surveyors.
“Regarding the safety of the front wall, we don’t know that it is unsafe, as the measurements of movement have not been done. If the measurements were to show that the wall is not moving, then restoration of the building would be significantly cheaper than what the council is suggesting.
“Moreover, the complete rebuilding of the front wall with new foundations might jeopardise the integrity of the building. Of course some work needs to be done on the front wall, to protect the building’s future, but how much needs to be spent on this can only be confirmed by checking whether the front wall is still moving.
“Although the council’s timber survey reports signs of infestation and rot, the FOGP’s surveyor reports that these are very minor and can be easily rectified. The roof trusses are sound and do not need replacing.
“The Friends of Graves Park will continue to attend meetings with the council to work towards the eventual restoration and renovation of this much loved building.”
Another £20,000 has been pledged in council community infrastructure levy (CIL) funding, which uses money given by developers to the council as part of planning permission to pay for community improvements. The group has also been pledged help with labour and materials that it says it is worth thousands of pounds.
As reported previously, the council says it is looking at five options approved by the charity trustees sub-committee. These range from doing nothing or demolishing the building apart from the public toilets to structural stabilisation of the building and internal refurbishment with options to include covering the outside area and refurbishing the toilets or a complete rebuild.
The rebuild options include cheaper construction and more traditional building methods.
The charity trustee sub-committee next meets on Monday, September 4. Chair Coun Ian Auckland said he would be getting interested parties together after the summer break.