Plans for Sheffield library spark debate

Walkley Library  hub of the community
Walkley Library hub of the community

Plans to run a coffee shop and restaurant at a Sheffield library have been revealed - sparking a mixed reaction.

A public meeting was held at Walkley Carnegie Library last week, with some residents concerned running it as a coffee shop in the day, and restaurant at night, would cause more noise and problems- although some are in favour.

Mum Tracey Spooner said ‘nobody wanted to live next to a pub.’

She added: “There’s going to be a token section of the library left. We don’t live at Broomhill or Ecclesall Road and that is what it is going to become, we already have enough noise on a bus route.

“I’m sure there are people who want it but they don’t have to live next door .”

Volunteers will still run the library, one of 15 which the council relinquished control of last year, and lease it from Forum Café Bars Ltd if the business buys the site.

Kane Yeardley, group owner, reassured residents there would be an alcohol-free area and he had worked with communities around his other venues in the city centre, Broomhill, Abbeydale Road and Mosborough.

He said he planned to spend £100,000 restoring the listed building and ‘90 per cent’ of library operating space would remain.

He said: “Currently library operating costs and bills have been running at around £20,000 a year and we will be taking on that responsibility.

“If we didn’t get involved with the Walkley site now there is a possibility that the building could fall into disrepair, the volunteers could find it difficult to keep functioning and we could see the building closed and sold.”

Planning permission must be sought for the development, which would create up to 35 jobs.

Mr Yeardley that there had been no complaints by residents near his other ‘warm and friendly’ community pubs. Businesses in Walkley have voiced support.

He added: “We have been looking in the area for a venue and don’t think there is a quality-run food and drink operation like what we have at the The York, or The Broadfield. Lots of people say it would be great to have one of our venues in Walkley.

“I have seen this model work in Sweden, where a library has a really good food and cafe offer and they are very busy. They have coffee mornings for mums, kids go after school to study and families join for dinner - we would like to replicate that in Walkley.”

Anne Bore, of Walkley Community Group, said plans were on display at the library and while some people had objected, an ‘equal number’ were in support.

She added: “There will be a planning process with the opportunity for people to give opinions and we have another meeting with the library service to discuss the next steps.”