Sheffield park café set to return

How the old bus shelter in Whirlowbrook Park could look once converted and extented to create a cafe

How the old bus shelter in Whirlowbrook Park could look once converted and extented to create a cafe

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The café in Whirlowbrook Park finally looks set to make a permanent comeback.

When the venue shut in the park’s old hall, dismayed customers mounted a 1,500-signature petition in protest and Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg took up the cause.

Whirlowbrook Hall was then taken over by Saxon Hotels, which signed a 25-year lease in 2013 with the council to take over the building as a wedding and events venue.

While the deal did not include reopening the public café in the hall itself - with its terrace and views down the valley - the company promised to provide a replacement.

Afternoon teas have been served in the hall, and a temporary hut was laid on in the car park during summer months serving refreshments, but now plans have been submitted to convert the disused shelter next to the park’s access road.

Decking would be laid around the shelter, with timber-clad shipping containers installed at the side to create more room.

A disabled toilet would be provided, while plans indicate three tables inside with sofa-style seating, and five outside.

Hot and cold sandwiches, soups, salads, quiche and cakes will be on the menu, with opening hours envisaged of 8pm to 5pm, Monday to Saturday.

Paul Brown, director of Saxon Hotels, said: “We’ve always been keen to have a café open in the park and have worked for a number of years to find a solution that’s commercially viable.”

An operator is in the process of being signed up and the aim is to open ‘within two months’, said Mr Brown.

“I think it will provide everything you need if you’re just using the park as a regular visitor, but it will also be a high enough quality offering to entice people in to use the park on the strength of its café.

“I think this solution is much better than using the hall. It gives the café users a nice, indoor space, and also leaves the hall for people who have booked it out.”

However, Mr Brown emphasised that the venue will need regular custom in order to survive.

“Because of its relatively remote location it needs people to go out and give it a try, and use it over and over again.

“We opened a temporary café on a couple of occasions that didn’t receive support from visitors in the park. So hopefully this solution will be supported by the park users and the general public.”