Traders who have been waiting for three years for a promised upgrade to their precinct could finally be seeing plans coming to fruition.
Lincolnshire Co-op, which owns the Riverside Precinct in Sleaford, has had a £500,000 makeover on the table for it since 2014.
North Kesteven District Council gave planning consent in 2015 and now it is hoped the scheme will finally breathe new vitality into the pedestrianised precinct which has been becoming an embarrassing eyesore for the town’s aspirations for regeneration.
A Lincolnshire Co-op spokesman has told The Standard: “There has been lots of work going on behind the scenes at the Riverside Shopping Centre and there have been some delays on the project. However, much-needed work to make improvements to the centre will commence in the new year.”
Property agents Banks, Long and Co director James Butcher described the project: “The aim is to inject fresh impetus into this important development, which is made up of 17 retail and office units, plus some first floor flats.
“The phase one proposals include opening up the central courtyard area, by removing the existing bandstand, a display unit and the colonnades fronting the shops along the southern side of the development.
“The idea is to improve these shops substantially by removing the existing, dated cladding on the front of the units and revamping them to create a more modern contemporary environment for shoppers.
“The second phase of the work will see the extension of the western block of the centre to create a large anchor unit to attract a strong retailer, that will act as a draw to shoppers from Southgate and the Sainsbury’s car park to the rear.”
Lee Taylor owns Press2Play video shop and Pop In Bargains in the precinct. He said he had been told by the precinct owners work would start in early January, depending on the weather. He said: “They are going to start by taking the covered walkways down first and that will take six months. It has been three years waiting and we are still a bit sceptical it will happen.”
Mr Taylor added external security shutters would not be allowed as it was felt it would detract from the overall look.
“They will accept indoor shutters, but we are fighting to get them to pay for the changes,” he said.
He said his business would probably be able to carry on trading as the shop has two entrances, but others would probably have to close for a few days.
Mr Taylor added: “In the long run it will be nicer when it is done because it looks so bad now. With Sweet Vienna gone it is so quiet down here.
“I am more optimistic with the promise of a big store coming in next door. We have been told it will be a well known clothing store – that would bring a lot more people.”