Sleaford Market Place is to get a new look after planning permission was grant for a section to be used as an alfresco eating and drinking area.
Three existing planters will be moved to section off a pedestrianised area from the Tiamo Italian Restaurant through to the Market Square Café and Restaurant, including El Toro Cocktail and Tapas Bar to create an outdoor seating and dining area.
The move has been put forward by and approved by North Kesteven District Council whose officers will meet with the three businesses to pull together a plan with a view to implementing the changes in the Spring.
The area also includes the historic Sleaford Bristol Water Fountain which has been brought back to life by a project spearheaded by the Sleaford Civic Trust. The fountain was built in 1874 and following the work people can now get drinking water there for the first time in 90 years.
Leader of North Kesteven District Council, Coun Richard Wright, said the work was part of the authority’s Sleaford Masterplan which identified the need to focus on public realm improvements in the town, better links for pedestrians and improved settings for key attractions and heritage assets.
“The pop-up street furniture we introduced last year has helped to improve the vibrancy of the town centre and the Market Place project will provide another space for people to chat, sit and enjoy new experiences in the town centre.
“The proposed £4 million multi-screen cinema that the council is funding will be very close to this area and the two uses will complement each other brilliantly,” said Coun Wright.
The decision will mean that the traders on Sleaford Market will need to move to another part of the Market Place, but it has not been estabilshed what part they will take up instead yet.
The town council manages the market and its clerk, Kevin Martin, explained that he is due to talk to the traders this week to consider their views on relocating as the rest of the square is currently used for public parking.
He said: “They will stay within the wider market place. It have spoken to the regular traders about the plans in the past. We will need to agree the changes to the market and the outlined plan of the area we can use and we will have to look at issues between pedestrians and vehicle movement.
“We will have to shut off part of the market place from parking. There are also days when we have funeral at St Denys’ Church where an area has to be coned off for hearses and mourners arriving.”
He accepted that it may mean the traders are in a less visible position for passing shoppers and so they will have to think carefully about the layout – whether to keep them at the rear of the market place or possibly facing the row of shops from the Solo Bar to the Market Square Cafe, as they have also just installed an electric hook up supply at the market hut for traders such as the fishmonger.
Rik Thomas of El Toro tapas bar described the outdoor dining plans as ‘fantastic’.
He said: “Our plans are to serve food al fresco style whenever the weather is right and judging by the last two long hot summers we could be in for a treat.
“Yes, our business is going to gain from it, but so is the town in general. All the businesses should benefit from a greater footfall in the area. It will create a marvellous continental feel to the square and folks will be able to sit out and have a drink whilst deciding which restaurant they want to go to, as we have two Italians, one Indian, the traditional cafe, the Solo and shortly a new burger lounge, and, of course, El Toro.”
Mr Thomas said his team were excited to get started, adding: “The market square is simply the eating hub of Sleaford and outside seating to the front will give a real vibrancy to the town.”
He said the businesses will look to put on outside entertainment and buskers –“the scope is massive”.