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This is the fifth time that the Council has proposed the sale or disposal of charitable land belonging to Graves Park.
Cobnar Cottage is an 18th Century building at the top of Cobnar Road, near the junction with Derbyshire Lane.
It stands on charitable land, originally gifted to the citizens of Sheffield by J G Graves in 1925. This is within the boundary of Graves Park.
The Council cabinet, in its role as trustees of the park, says the cottage is “surplus to requirements”.
They want to sell the cottage freehold.
This would mean breaking the covenants and selling part of Graves Park land.
|The Council says.....
- They don’t have enough money to renovate the cottage as it needs a lot of repair.
- If they sell it freehold then they can get a better price.
- They are within their rights to sell the cottage as trustees and that the sale is in the best interests of the Graves Park Charity.
- They have checked with the Charity Commission which has "agreed" that they have the right to sell the cottage. (In fact what the Charity Commission said was that the Council (Graves Park Charity) could sell the cottage under the charity legislation, provided there was no restriction to this in the Graves Park covenant. The Council have just taken this to mean that they can sell the cottage and are ignoring the covenant which puts the individual trustees (Council Cabinet) under person liability for illegally breaking the Graves Park covenant.)
|Friends of Graves Park say...
- The cottage and the land on which it stands was given to the citizens of Sheffield to be held in trust and the covenants say it cannot be sold.
- The Charity Commission website says it is the responsibility of the trustees to check that they have the right to sell the land. This is not the same as agreeing that they have a right to sell land. (A similar argument was used by SCC’s legal department at least twice before and on every previous occasion they were wrong.)
- It is the Council who are short of money and who have identified the cottage as “surplus to requirements”. Once again, there is a clear conflict of interest between the Council’s cabinet as councillors and as trustees of the Graves Park Trust.
- The cottage should be rented to make money for the trust and kept as an asset. It is disgraceful that what used to be a habitable cottage, rented out less than 10 years ago, has been negligently allowed to deteriorate to its current state. The Council and its officers are directly responsible for the neglect and deterioration of the cottage and should be held accountable.
- In November 2013 the Friends of Graves Park managed to get an agreement from the Council to delay any decisions regarding the cottage’s proposed sale for 12 months, so that FOGP can look at ways of restoring and keeping the cottage. All of our detailed suggestions and business plan was rejected without further discussion.
- If the Council stick to their original plan and insist on selling the cottage freehold, then FOGP say that the cottage will, sadly, have to be demolished and whatever happens, the land must be retained as part of the park.
- In 2015, a proposal was put forward in discussion with a stonemason. The stonemason is offering to live in the cottage and in return he will renovate the cottage, only being provided with materials. The Friends of Graves Park will provide the materials, so this will be at no cost to the City Council. In addition the stonemason will provide training for groups and this will open up the opportunity to run training for disadvantaged children, for example. This opens up great opportunities for funding from national bodies and would be an innovative beginning to expand the training and educational facilities that Graves Park and all its assets could provide for the people of Sheffield - to no cost to the Council! The Council has dismissed this unique opportunity without even explaining why.
|J G Graves said in the original 1925 Covenant…
- The land is “…for the purpose of the perpetual enjoyment thereof by the public for exercise and recreation and for purposes conducive to or in connection with such enjoyment…”
- “That the land hereby conveyed shall at all times hereafter be preserved as an open space wood or park…”
- “And that such buildings or any of them or any part or parts thereof may if the Corporation shall think fit be pulled down and removed.” (In the original covenant, the Corporation means “The Lord Mayor Aldermen and Citizens of the City of Sheffield”)
- The land on which Cobnar Cottage stands is designated as parkland in perpetuity.
- The land belongs to the citizens of Sheffield, not the Council.
|What Friends of Graves Park are doing to save the cottage…
- We have already had the garden area around the cottage cleared as a gesture of goodwill.
- We have met with representatives of the Council and Council officers formally.
- We have commissioned a detailed survey from a quantity surveyor to assess how the cottage can best be restored and the costs involved.
|We urgently need donations to help our cause!
Download here the letters sent to Friends of Graves Park Members about Cobnar Cottage
- We are now trying to raise as much money as possible in order to match funding when we apply for grants to assist with the restoration or the re-integration of the land to parkland.
- Please donate what you can c/o the address on our contacts page.
Letter to Friends of Graves Park Members 23rd January 2015
Letter to Friends of Graves Park Members 5th July 2014
|How you can help:
- Join Friends of Graves Park. For £3 a year you can become a member. You will receive two newsletters a year, keeping you up to date with progress and an invitation to our annual AGM.
- Make a donation. All our funds go towards projects to protect and look after Graves Park. None of our committee members is paid for being a trustee; we are volunteers working for the park in our free time.
- Sign one of the petitions available online.
- Write a letter to the Council expressing your views regarding the sale of the cottage and the land on which it stands. Address it to Julie Dore as Leader of SCC, or Isobel Bowler as Cabinet member for Culture Sport and Leisure.
Address your letter to the Councillor of your choice at:
Sheffield City Council
- Let us know your views about the sale of the cottage. We will collate these and pass them on to the Council.