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Rose Garden Café survey findings and next steps

Building with external scaffold in place, a grassed area in front

Additional structural surveys have been completed at the Rose Garden Café Building in Graves Park, with findings highlighting concerns relating to wall tilt and the condition of timbers. The full survey reports will now be used to help determine costs of future options for the site, which will inform the upcoming public consultation.

The café was closed in July after serious structural safety issues were picked up from a routine check. Since the closure the council has been working with the café operator, local Friends of Group and campaigners to establish options for the building going forward.

Additional surveys were required to enable more detailed inspection. The building needed significant propping work to allow access for the additional surveys to be completed, and to explore the possibility of reopening.

The council completed essential safety and internal construction works throughout October and November enabling the café to reopen as a takeaway facility in December.

All recommended structural surveys have now been completed by independent surveyors and the findings support the concerns initially raised. The Timber Survey shows signs of infestation and rot, and the Tilt Survey shows that the supporting wall measures a tilt of 2 degrees – in areas, the top of the front wall overhangs the bottom by approximately 200mm.

The full survey findings have now been summarised to help inform the future options plus associated costs of each option, so that these can be considered before consulting on the long-term future of the cafe.

Cllr Bryan Lodge, Chair of the Charity Trustee Sub-Committee said: “We know that the Rose Garden Café is a well-loved community facility, and we want to secure a long-term solution for its future as soon as possible.

“There’s been suggestion that our actions in closing the building were over the top, but the findings of these additional structural surveys support the initial concerns, which forced us to act so decisively. Our duty is to make sure people are safe within public buildings so if there is any doubt whatsoever it’s not a risk we’re prepared to take.

“Now that the detailed reports have been received, we’re looking at the best options and the related costs for the future of the site. We want our communities to be involved in this decision, and as soon as these options are clear we will be asking for your views.

“We know, and regret that this process has taken some months and we are grateful to all those who have been involved and helped to get us to this point. I’d like to specifically thank Brewkitchen for their cooperation and hard work in getting set back up to provide a takeaway service to park visitors during this period.”

Options for the site will be available for public consultation soon with a range of ways for local people to get involved.

The Rose Garden Café can continue to operate under the current terms while a long-term decision is being explored.

A summary of the survey reports has been published on the Rose Garden Café webpage and copies of the full reports will also be published by the end of this week.