New lease of life for Sheffield community facility

Pictured are Youth Support Worker Mazzafar Hussain, Wake Smith associate Laura Sanderson and Sharrow Community Forum CEO Jonathan Roberts

A Sheffield solicitors has helped a popular community facility in Sheffield secure a long term lease bringing new opportunities for funding and expansion.

Highfield Adventure Playground in Crowther Place has been a favourite play space for families around the Sharrow area for over 40 years and for the last eight years it has been managed by charity Sharrow Community Forum Ltd after a campaign driven by local people to keep it open.

The new long term lease for 25 years, negotiated with Sheffield City Council by Wake Smith Solicitors, replaces a building management agreement renewed every three years.

Jonathan Roberts, CEO at Sharrow Community Forum, said: “This is a big change for us and a huge opportunity. This new long lease offers us security and long tenure which allows us to go to funders and ask for capital funding for equipment, something we couldn’t do before. That opens up a lot of doors for us and will make a huge difference.

“This is already a popular play space, but our aim is to develop further how we can become a more effective community hub and support children, young people and families, adventurous play, community cohesion and community involvement, and providing accessible and affordable spaces for hire.

“We are already talking with organisations to expand our offer and have an inclusive free summer programme now on with music making, performances, play and insights into the city’s museums until the end of August.”

Interesting equipment and exciting spaces at the playground, which attracts up to 80 kids every session, include a zip wire, tunnel slide, sand pits, maypole swing and water pump plus a new outside theatre stage area.

The space, for children aged up to 14 years, is also popular with parents who regard it as a safe place, staffed by skilled play workers, offering refreshments plus crafts, cooking, games and community programmes encouraging social eating, better parenting skills, and awareness about anti-social behaviour.

Sharrow Community Forum is a community development trust and membership organisation and operates from the Old Junior School on South View Road in Sharrow, as well as using the building as a community centre.

Jonathan added: “Without Wake Smith’s advice we would have been walking into this negotiation blind. I didn’t know anything about the technical or legal side, and what might trip us up. Laura Sanderson drove the project and took all our worries away, completing the job in a really short period of time. It was a fantastic service.”

Laura Sanderson, associate in Wake Smith Solicitors’ commercial property team, said: “This project is a flagship scheme which strengthens the community in Sharrow. I was delighted to help the Forum on the lease which will result in improved services and bringing more people together.”

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