An aging shopping precinct in Sleaford is set to get a £500,000 makeover after planners at North Kesteven gave consent for a major upgrade and the extension programme.
Lincolnshire Co-op, which owns the Riverside Shopping Centre off Southgate, is keen to breathe extra vitality into the pedestrianised precinct and main shopping street of the town.
The work, which involves the modernisation and extension of the centre, will be carried out in two phases, but there is no exact start date for the work at this stage.
The Society’s agent, Banks Long and Co, confirmed that the planning application submitted earlier in the year for the proposed alterations has now been approved by North Kesteven District Council.
This follows discussions between the firm, Lincolnshire Co-op, architect Framework, and the council’s planning and economic development officers.
Shoppers and shop keepers have been impatient for work to get started as negotiations dragged on after the project was first announced at the beginning of this year and a planning application was submitted in the summer.
Banks Long & Co director James Butcher said: “We want to begin the first phase of work - which will cost over £250,000 – as soon as possible now that the planning permission is in place.
“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. We are therefore in the process of tendering the project with a view to appointing a contractor shortly.
“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.”
He continued: “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.
“Our discussions are at an advanced stage with a national retailer interested in taking this and another unit in the centre, which would be great for both shoppers and the existing retailers within the centre,” said Mr Butcher.
“We’re intending to phase the work to ensure that it causes the minimum possible disruption to the existing retailers as well as shoppers using the centre.”
Lincolnshire Co-op’s Senior Estates and Property Manager Liz Welbourn said: “We’re really pleased to be moving forward with this project to rejuvenate the Riverside Shopping Centre.
“The centre, which provides a link from Southgate to the supermarket and 100-space car park behind, attracts lots of customers who’ll benefit from the improvements.
“We’re also confident that our development will attract other new enterprises to this area providing an extra boost to retailing.”