Sheffield lawyers help garden centre purchase come to fruition

The new owners of a popular Sheffield garden, nursery and aquatics centre are set to grow the site into a community hub after help from city lawyers Wake Smith Solicitors.

Reverend Dave Walker and his son William have bought Birley Moor Garden Centre and Aquatics from previous owners Chris and Margaret Dale, who are retiring having run the facility since the early 1990s.

The Mosborough-based duo, who have held the garden centre in high regard after Dave first went there with his father at six years old, plan to invest in, and improve, the site. Subject to planning approval, future plans include an on site café, educational centre and creation of a community garden and orchard with help from local colleges..

They will keep the existing five staff employed at the centre on Moor Valley, with plans to boost the workforce by 15 people this year.

Rebecca Robinson, director and head of the corporate team at Wake Smith negotiated the purchase with solicitor Joe Creasor, while commercial property director Paul Gibbon dealt with the property elements including simultaneous purchases of the freehold from the owner and the leasehold bungalow. Lydia Sadler from Sheffield planning advisors DLP Planning Ltd is leading on engagement with the Local Planning Authority.

Rev Walker, who recently sold his interest in Lancashire based wastewater monitoring specialists Detectronic, and his son William, acquired all the shares in Globerock Ltd, trading as Birley Moor Garden Centre, through their company Maranta Leuconeura Ltd – which is the Latin name for the Prayer Plant.

Rev Walker, vicar at St John the Evangelist Church in Ridgeway, said: “The garden centre has always had a sentimental place in my heart since I first went there as a six year old, with my dad. He used to buy his tomato plants and compost from there. My schoolfriends have really fond memories of going there.

“Former owner Chris has done a great job and has kept the spirit of community alive at the centre. Now he has retired, he says he has passed the baton onto me.

“I’m all about community engagement and this project will focus on the garden centre, the cafe and the community hub. We have already reworked some of the centre and the renowned aquatics centre will keep providing crucial knowledge, products and fish to keen enthusiasts. A community garden and orchard will allow more people to enjoy the space and encourage biodiversity.

“This is only a small project, but I want to bring people together and make a difference to their lives.”

Plans for the centre, which has been there since 1977 on the site of the former Old Dent Colliery Mine, include sustainable drainage, eco roofs, solar and renewable energy and a water course project to reuse water and prevent flooding.

Wake Smith’s Rebecca Robinson said:  “The purchase is a wonderful opportunity for Dave and William and we were delighted to work on this project with them. We look forward to continuing to advise and support them in delivering the their vision for the community.”

Rev Walker added: “I was very impressed by the response time from Wake Smith. They called me back straight away, held our hands through every step of the process and always kept me informed. It was a phenomenal service and we will be working with them on this project for the foreseeable future.”

MP Clive Betts will officially open the centre on Sunday April 21 at a public open day from 1.30-5pm.

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