PRESS RELEASE in response to the Councils announcement
It is incredibly hard to understand the motivations behind this announcement and why officers are making this recommendation to Cabinet.
The purpose of this tender for the sale / 'disposal' of Mount Pleasant was to select a preferred developer to work with to ensure the best use of this vital community and heritage asset, and we do not see how a Care Home for private profit over our 'for the community' scheme can be justified. Especially when Avenues to Zero 'Heart of Sharrow' project has such widespread support from: local residents, the surrounding community and other initiatives in the area, not to mention an incredible delivery team, experienced advisors, Councillors and Cabinet members!
Whereas we understand that our scheme is innovative and might differ from traditional 'development' (and may therefore need more discussion to understand), we do not accept the excuse that "If we talk to you, we have to talk with all the bidders" (of which there were two shortlisted). That is exactly what SCC should be doing to ensure this site is put to use providing value and serving the community as best it can. This is not just a building, it's the difference between making a thriving heart that can regenerate a community and polarising it forever.
We have been told by members that they are impressed with what we're wanting to do and that they want to work with us, but this begs the question as to why they're not giving the project that will have such an impact for the community for decades to come a chance. Our project is comprised of multiple elements and this is the initial proposal, if they have any questions or issues then these can be discussed. We have always said that we will be having the community involved in everything we do upon being selected, so of course things can be changed. This tender is about selecting the right developer to work with going forward. You can build a care home anywhere.
For us, the offer to 'work with us and do something down at Castlegate' proves a fundamental misunderstanding of what we're doing at Mt Pleasant. We are connecting up and resourcing the people and initiatives in the surrounding area to build a resilient and socially cohesive community that is better placed to look after and support itself; something we've been working on and investing in for the last 4years. We're not just providing affordable housing, start-up support, co-working space, retail spaces, ensuring the continuation of Ship Shapes vital services from the site, helping create hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs over the 20years, and putting any surpluses back into the project and the community; we're creating a robust model that others can learn from and replicate to regenerate the places they live in and are connected to.
We are currently awaiting a copy of the report so that we can look into how our scheme has been represented to members and will be seeking full transparency on the criteria, rationale and justifications upon which the decision to dispose of this unique public asset are being made. We would encourage everyone to scrutinise and hold to account those who are supposed to represent them, their best interests, the interests of Sheffield and its future, before yet another valuable public asset is lost forever.
Jonny Douglas and Pennie Raven, Avenues To Zero
The Council made it's announcement via the Sheffield Star on Thursday 15th of February in a piece titled '18th Century Sheffield mansion to be transforme into care home' and second article carrying comment from Avenues to Zero titled 'Entrepreneurs miss out on chance to build £17 million community hub ant Sheffield mansion' was also published.