Protect Graves Park! Protect Our Heritage!
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Cobnar Cottage and the charitable land on which it stands were sold off in January 2016. Despite our campaign, we were unable to stop them going ahead with the sale. We believe that by selling this part of the park, the trustees (Sheffield City Council) broke the covenants.
The Friends of Graves Park have been battling to stop the Council selling off areas of Graves Park for the past 20 years. They sold off Bole Hill Farm and Chantrey Cottage, then tried to sell off the Nurseries Site, claiming it was “surplus to requirements”. When we won this battle 18 years ago, the Charity Commission stipulated that the nurseries site should be returned to parkland. Over the next few years, the Council continued to dispute the charitable status of this part of the park and threatened to sell off the area by Chesterfield Road, unless the Friends agreed to houses being built across the south side of Graves Park. The Charity Commission disagreed and identified the area by Chesterfield Road as charitable land. The Friends continued with their project of restoring the nurseries site to parkland, had completed the wildlife area and were starting to make plans for the arboretum, when the Council again tried to dispose of the nurseries site, this time by moving St. Luke’s hospice onto the site. Once again the Council claimed the site was derelict and surplus to requirements. The Friends and the citizens of Sheffield opposed this move and were supported in this view by the Charity Commission. Eventually the Friends were successful and an agreement was reached with the Council that all of Graves Park would be in future protected from sale or disposal. This was put into a Scheme in 2009, agreed by Sheffield City Council and the Charity Commission. We were told that no areas of the Graves Park Trust would ever be threatened with sale or disposal again. How wrong they were!
In 2014, the Council once again tried to break the covenants by selling Cobnar Cottage. They refused to consider any proposals put forward by the Friends. They would not even meet to discuss the idea of a stonemason doing up the cottage for free in return for living there. The Council said they had no need for a stonemason, no need for someone to repair the grade 2 listed walls for free, no need for someone to offer to train young people in the art of stonemasonry in the park.
As you probably know, the Council ignored a petition of more than 13,000 signatures and went ahead with the sale.
The Charity Commission at first agreed with the Friends’ interpretation of the 2009 scheme and agreed that the cottage could not be sold. Then, in October 2015 they reversed this decision and supported the Council, after which anything the Friends said was ignored.
The Friends of Graves Park are determined to protect the park from further sale or disposal.
We believe that the Council would not hesitate to sell off further sections of Graves Park if they could. Since the sale of Cobnar Cottage, the Friends have engaged a legal team to try and protect Graves Park.
We are currently seeking a declaration of the 2009 Scheme. We also intend to pursue a change in the trustees of Graves Park, who we believe should be independent of the Council’s cabinet.
Please support us by signing our petition. Please also spread the word.
If you can make a donation to our legal fees, this would be really helpful. It has already cost us a lot (money which could otherwise have been spent on improving the park, however we believe it is vital to protect the park from sale or disposal).
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