Campaigners hoping to revive Hillsborough Park’s listed former Coach House as a dementia-friendly older people’s centre and cafe are celebrating after an initial £50,000 bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund was granted today (Friday 7 December).

It means the abandoned coach house, last used as a munitions store during the Second World War, could be open for use by the whole community by the end of 2020.

Age UK Sheffield says the development funding of £49,700 announced today will enable the charity to progress plans and apply for a full National Lottery Grant later this year. A fundraising campaign is already under way.

The centre, behind Hillsborough Library and adjoining the Park’s attractive walled garden, would host dementia-friendly group activities such as singing and dancing, as well as classroom-based activities and educational classes such as digital drop-ins.

The community café could be open to thousands of local park visitors, including dog-walkers, children’s playground users, and park runners.

It aims to provide local employment and volunteering opportunities in the Hillsborough area, while introducing people to the Walled Garden and other heritage within the park.

There is currently no dedicated older people’s activity centre in Sheffield. Age UK Sheffield is particularly interested in developing inter-generational learning opportunities and concepts such as a “Nana’s Cafe”, with socially-isolated older people being brought to together to cook for other people.

Volunteers and councillors show how a new cafe and centre at Hillsborough Park could look

Age UK Sheffield Chief Executive, Steve Chu, said: “This is absolutely fantastic news. Thanks to National Lottery players we have a real opportunity to develop The Old Coach House into a thriving community venue for older people in Sheffield and local people in Hillsborough. Importantly, through this project, we can bring back into use a derelict listed building that would otherwise soon be lost.”

It comes just a week after Sheffield City Council launched its Building Better Parks strategy where millions of pounds could be invested in Sheffield’s parks and public spaces over the next five years.

The Council has set out its ambitions for the city’s parks with a new five-year strategy that could see millions invested to improve Sheffield’s green spaces.

Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, parks and leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: “Hillsborough park is already one of our absolute jewels and plays host to a year-round calendar of events, activities and social occasions. This is a fantastic project which will help thousands of people across the city and their carers and friends, giving them dignity and support and ensuring they can tackle dementia together in a constructive and compassionate way.

“What’s more, this facility will provide vital café and toilet facilities at one of our city’s most beautiful and popular parks. We look forward to working with Age UK Sheffield, the Friends of Hillsborough Park and other community groups to help these plans develop further.”

Councillor Jack Scott, cabinet member for transport and development at Sheffield City Council, said: “We are a city that takes its heritage seriously and I know this old coach house has long been identified as a building which needs investment and major improvement. Age UK Sheffield have offered a compelling vision for how a dementia-friendly café could operate in the community, and this has been supported by Heritage Lottery Fund.

“With careful support, this could be something that benefits all age groups in Sheffield – and provides a lasting legacy for years to come.”

Age UK Sheffield is a local charity, based in Sheffield, supporting people aged 50 and over in the city. Last year the charity supported over 4,000 older people, helping to bring in £2.9 million additional benefits into the local economy.