Preserving town’s character

Sleaford Conservation Area plan - blue line is existing; red line is proposed. EMN-160125-134904001
Sleaford Conservation Area plan - blue line is existing; red line is proposed. EMN-160125-134904001

Sleaford area residents are being asked to give their opinions on three new initiatives aimed at improving the appearance of Sleaford’s distinctive and historic town centre.

With a partnership approach to improving some of Sleaford’s historic shop fronts underway and a new design guide to advise on suitable shop fronts in draft form, coupled with proposed changes to the way Sleaford’s Conservation Area is managed, there is to be a joint consultation and awareness raising event.

All three are interlinked under North Kesteven District Council’s commitment to enhancing the attractiveness of Sleaford Town Centre to residents, shoppers, visitors and businesses.

The event will be held at The Source in Southgate, in Sleaford, on Wednesday, February 3, from 2-7pm, with planning, conservation and economic development officers from the authority on hand to help with enquiries.

There has been a Conservation Area designation in place for 40 years giving protection to the historic character of Sleaford Town Centre.

Now, in order to create a strong framework to advise and guide planning decisions, there is a need to undertake a detailed appraisal of the characteristics which make the Conservation Area so special.

By assessing what is good and bad and identifying scope for positive improvement, this appraisal will also help to guide a management plan for the Conservation Area going forward.

There are also proposals to change the boundaries of the Conservation Area and, in order to preserve its character, to change the works householders can carry out within the area such as replacing windows and roof coverings.

Certain areas are proposed to be removed from its protection including Tesco’s car park, East Banks car park most of the High School and Leicester Street, while new areas added include West Banks

In a bid to raise the profile of the town centre Conservation Area, Historic England is co-funding, alongside NKDC and Sleaford Town Council, a programme of financial support to repair and replace historic shopfronts, which is already leading to improvements within the Market Place.

And on the back of this the council is drawing up a Shop Front Design Guide to improve the quality and design of shop fronts across the town centre as well as the broader district. This gives guidance on appropriate signage and advertising as well as advice of what is involved in the planning process.

Leader of the Council, Coun Marion Brighton, who has Executive Board oversight for economic regeneration, said: “It is clear that the quality of shop fronts has declined over the past 30 years, which has a negative impact on the overall character and appearance of all of our communities, but especially the town centre of Sleaford and its Conservation Area.

“As one of the initiatives aimed at reversing that decline and restoring the distinct nature and historic environment of Sleaford Town Centre I encourage everyone with an interest to learn more and to give their informal feedback.”