Task force proposed to revitalise Sleaford’s market

A regular auction has been among the ideas introduced to boost footfall in Sleaford Market Place. EMN-160711-154905001
A regular auction has been among the ideas introduced to boost footfall in Sleaford Market Place. EMN-160711-154905001

A task force could be created to help revitalise Sleaford’s market as part of wider regeneration plans for the town centre.

This is one of the recommendations to be considered by North Kesteven District Council’s Executive Board on Thursday, November 10 which seeks to confirm the authority’s commitment to revitalising the market as part of ‘a vibrant town centre’.

The suggested way forward is to create a working group of key stakeholders, including Sleaford Town Council, to look at how the market operates and how it can be improved in the future: and subject to the Town Council’s approval, a one-year extension to the current licence arrangement, allowing them to continue to operate the market while the wider review is carried out.

The proposals come after Sleaford Town Council put forward a business plan to own and operate the whole Market Place, including the car park, not just manage the weekly market day pitches. the current licence for the Town Council to run the market has just come to an end too.

Alan Gray, Economic Development Manager for NKDC, said: “Markets across the country are struggling to survive and this is not a problem unique to Sleaford.

“Shopping habits are changing and will continue to change.

“The report due for consideration highlights how evidence from the Sleaford Town Centre Vision by retail experts Kerching shows that investment return in the market is only likely to be successful when other investments in the town have a positive impact on footfall and the amount of time shoppers spend in the centre.

“A dedicated group would allow us to understand what role the market might play in the delivery of the council’s economic objectives in the town centre - increasing footfall and encouraging shoppers to stay in the centre.

“Ultimately, we want to encourage more people to shop in Sleaford and see regeneration plans come to fruition. A successful market could be a key component of this.”

He says any investment in the market needs to be seen in the context of wider town centre regeneration, otherwise, taken in isolation the market would not be successful.

Mayor of Sleaford and chairman of the Town Council David Suiter said he hoped his council’s business plan is being taken seriously and hoped they would be allowed to get on with their plans for the market.

He said: “It is disappointing if this delays the start of implementation of this business plan and potential investment.”

But he went on: “On the other hand, getting people round the table could well be a positive thing for Sleaford.”

He felt a one-year extension to their licence would not allow them to move forward with their longer term plans. Coun Suiter said: “We have ideas about themed markets such as the St George’s Day event and farmers markets. We were looking at making some stalls available for some users that needed them and storage for our gazebos.

When and where should the market operate and by who are questions being posed by NKDC economic development officers, but Coun Suiter insisted the market Place was still the best location. “Moving it to Money’s Yard was not a good idea,” he said, referring to a previous experiment. “If you put it in a different location it could be difficult to find.”