Consent is in place for the £13m redevelopment of Canada House. Credit: via Altitude

Moves afoot in Sheffield cultural sector

A shadow licence has been granted to the Leadmill’s owner, while Harmony Works Trust has been recognised by the UK Charity Commission, giving a funding boost to its Canada House restoration.

Harmony Works Trust is billed as a “new collaborative powerhouse” organised by Sheffield Music Hub, Sheffield Music Academy, Brass Bands England, and Music in the Round.

With its charitable status confirmed, it can apply for funding directly as efforts are stepped up to revitalise the grade two*-listed Canada House in Castlegate as the home of Harmony Works, which will be a new home for music education in Sheffield.

Planning and listed building consent was secured in 2022 for the £13m project, on Commercial Street close to Ponds Forge. Evans Vettori Architects is advising on the project.

Recording, performance, and practice spaces will support all types of musical development at Harmony Works, along with a café and social spaces. The team is working towards a major National Lottery Heritage Fund delivery grant application which could deliver £4m of capital funding.

Emily Pieters, Harmony Works’ project director, said: “We are incredibly happy to have been accepted for charitable status – it reinforces everything that we have been working on to date and encourages us as we approach vital milestones for the project over the next few months.

“Sheffield boasts a strong musical heritage, with some of the world’s best-known bands and artists, and a long history of live music venues and music festivals. We want all young people in the region to have access to state-of-the-art facilities that can empower them to be part of this rich legacy and that is what the Harmony Works project is about.

“With our submission for the National Lottery Heritage Fund delivery grant application ever nearer, we can’t wait to be one step closer to bringing everything together within Canada House, seeing it transform, creating one central hub to engage with wider audiences, and ensuring that music education in Sheffield is diverse, accessible and fun for all.”

The Leadmill decision  comes amid an ongoing row between the owner MVL Properties 2017 and the venue’s long-time operating team, which was served notice in April 2022.

MVL’s parent, the Electric Group, operates venues in London, Bristol and Newcastle and wants to run the Leadmill itself. The shadow licence process is explained in full here.

The venue is able to remain open and continue to operate under its current licence conditions.

Acknowledging the Leadmill’s cherished status, Cllr Tom Hunt, leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “The application for a shadow licence was approved because the council’s Licensing Sub Committee found that the applicants demonstrated they could uphold all four of the licensing objectives.

“As a statutory Licensing Authority, the council has a legal duty to be fair, unbiased and treat each licence application the same. The application for a shadow licence for ‘The Leadmill’ by MVL Properties 2017 Ltd was treated impartially and the case was considered on its own merits.

“I’d like to reassure residents that the premises licence held by The Leadmill’s management team remains valid and the venue is able to remain open and run as normal.”

Dominic Madden, co-founder, of Electric Group, said: “We are pleased to have been granted a shadow premises license for The Leadmill. This is a significant milestone – and we would like to extend our gratitude to Sheffield City Council and the Licencing Committee for focusing on facts, not smears, and our outstanding track record of compliance.

“We hope that this decision can mark the beginning of a new chapter, where we can put the hostilities of the Save the Leadmill campaign behind us. Our repeated intention has always been clear – to secure The Leadmill as a thriving music venue for music artists and community projects.”

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