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Containers to be used by community groups and to improve park facilities

Fargate containers

At Strategy and Resources Committee today, councillors opted to place the Fargate containers in storage while alternative community uses across the city are explored.

The Committee met on Tuesday, January 24th, to decide the future of the containers ahead of their closure at the end of this month.

Councillors decided to keep the containers - distributing them in individual units to community organisations across Sheffield and within the city’s parks.

Community groups will be able to submit an expression of interest to use the containers. The process for submissions is being drawn up and more information will be shared as soon as possible. The process will begin in early February and community groups will have six weeks to submit their expression of interest. The responses and feasibility will be assessed and a proposal of the options is expected by April 2023.

Opportunities to use the containers to improve outdoor catering and toilet facilities in Sheffield parks will also be explored.

Cllr Terry Fox, Leader of Sheffield City Council and Chair of the Strategy and Resources Committee, said:

“There is no question that the containers project has had its problems and I’m glad we have reached a decision which will see them put to good use for the benefit of the city and its fantastic communities. 

“The money for the original containers project was secured entirely from government and council officers were right to secure this extra investment for Sheffield. Sadly, however, the containers project never fulfilled what was expected. The council now needs to learn lessons from this to ensure that similar mistakes aren’t made again, and the on-going Governance Review needs to investigate how the Committee System can facilitate better oversight for councillors.

“But this should never detract from our ambition to boost the local economy and draw-down whatever investment we can from government.  

“Going forward, I’m excited to hear the proposals and how the containers can be repurposed to support the critical and valuable work of community groups who bring so much to Sheffield and its residents.

“As the containers come to a close this week, I’d like to take the time to thank the brilliant businesses who, despite the setbacks, have stuck with the container project and highlighted the strength, determination and importance of independent businesses in this city. I wish them all the best for the future and hope to see their brands go on to achieve fantastic things.”

For info

The Strategy and Resources report and webcast are available online.

Committee members met on Tuesday, January 24th to discuss four options presented to them by Council officers. These options were:

  1. Store the containers while alternative uses are explored further. Alternative uses could include working with community groups and improving catering and toilet facilities in parks
  2. Locate the container park on a vacant plot of land on Sheaf Street by Sheffield railway station
  3. Explore with a third party the potential to locate the container park on a second vacant plot of development land near to Sheffield railway station
  4. Explore the potential to sell the containers to a third party

On December 12th 2022, The Strategy and Resources Committee approved:

  • To pause further work to complete the first-floor bar, balcony and lift access until an options appraisal can be developed setting out the choices for the future of the container development.
  • To fund, from revenue, the operational costs required to continue operating the retail, food, screen and temporary bar on the ground floor until at least 1 January 2023.
  • To support the current tenants with advice and guidance to continue trading in January or find alternate retail units in the city centre if desired.
  • To bring forward a further paper for decision in January once an options appraisal has been produced with proposals on the use of the containers after removal from Fargate.
  • In line with good reflective practice, a review is undertaken on the container project outlining learning for future projects.