The deadlock on the future of a key development site in Sleaford looks to finally be broken with a deal being reached with the Town Council over access which would also see the Southgate level crossing stay open to traffic.
Supermarket giant Tesco stunned authorities when it backed out of multi-million pound plans for a new store on the former Advanta Seeds site in January 2015 after the company had to dramatically reassess its financial situation due to falling profits.
North Kesteven District Council vowed to negotiate with all parties involved to come up with a new plan for the site – possibly mixed retail and other uses – and bring about a quick sale of the land.
This led to surveys and studies to draw up a strategy to regenerate the whole town centre including 11 potential options for new road systems.
Sleaford Town Council has been in discussions with Tesco for several months as plans for a new access road were formed linking the site via Boston Road, through the Bristol Bowls Club greens.
Clerk to the Town Council Kevin Martin told The Standard in a statement the Advanta site owner, Tesco, approached the Council to acquire 182sqm of land along the north-western boundary of the neighbouring Boston Road Recreation Ground, as its owners, for a visibility splay at the proposed new access road junction. In return, Mr Martin says Tesco has agreed to transfer approximately 2,284sqm of its land to be incorporated into the western edge of the Recreation Ground.
Mr Martin said: “This land will include 23 additional trees. (It is likely that the owner’s redevelopment proposal will require the removal of four trees along the existing road frontage fencing).”
He said Tesco would also provide landscaping and new boundary fencing for this new parcel of land, cover the Town Council’s legal costs, and provide a contribution towards development of the Recreation Ground.
Mr Martin added that the Town Council has also put in place a legal mechanism to protect Sleaford interests by ensuring as far as possible that no road can be built out of the site which might bring about the closure of the Southgate level crossing.
Previous plans for a link road serving the new store and the Maltings redevelopment would have joined Boston Road and Mareham Lane over the railway line, cutting through the recreation ground. With the Town Council, unwilling to sell, a compulsory purchase order had been in the offing. Network Rail had required the closure of Southgate level crossing as part of the arrangement.
The proposals have been agreed with Fields in Trust with which the Town Council entered into an agreement over the Rec’ to protect it.
An independent valuer has advised the council it has achieved the best deal possible from the land.
The Town Council now has to formally advertise its intention to dispose of the land in the local press, its website and Facebook site.
Any objectors should write to Kevin Martin, Clerk to Sleaford Town Council at Town Hall, Navigation Yard, Sleaford NG34 7TW by 4.30pm on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.
It is understood negotiations are ongoing with the Bristol Bowls Club regarding relocating the club to make way for the road.
A Tesco spokesman said: “We are reviewing our site in Sleaford with the aim of bringing forward plans to redevelop the area and bring it back into use. We look forward to sharing these plans with the community in the near future.”
Planned conversion of Tesco’s existing site as a retail park was also scuppered by Tesco’s withdrawal two years ago and Avant Homes’ designs to regenerate the Maltings have been on hold too without the necessary road access.