Cafe culture plans take shape

Outdoor cafe culture plans for Sleaford Market Place around the restored Bristol Water Fountain. EMN-190110-115605001
Outdoor cafe culture plans for Sleaford Market Place around the restored Bristol Water Fountain. EMN-190110-115605001

Plans are taking shape to develop part of Sleaford’s historic Market Place to become a location to sit, relax, eat and drink in a continental -style cafe culture scheme.

Business development officials at North Kesteven District Council are in talks with bar and restaurant owners in a bid to mark off a strip of the market square - which has predominantly been a car park for many years as well as hosting regular market traders - to be car-free, instead occupied by more tables and chairs.

This would be similar to how the seating area has been created outside the Market Square Cafe with the help of Made in Sleaford branded barriers and planters in a pop-up project to add shopper-friendly seating and cycle rack features to the streets and shopping areas of the town centre. The planters and barriers act as protection to diners from the vehicles manoeuvring around the parking area.

Businesses have already expressed an interest in the idea.

An NKDC spokesman said it is early days as it will be subject to planning permission and they would not want to pre-empt any decision on their imminent application.

He said: “The idea is to build on the emerging vision for the town, in line with the Sleaford Masterplan and Visioning work.

“It would assist in making it a car free area around the restored (Bristol) water fountain, creating a traffic free pedestrian refuge/plaza, with the market stalls to one side and parking beyond.

“It also links to the Heart of Sleaford project and the Pop Up public realm initiative.”

The Heart of Sleaford project aims to link Money’s Yard to the Market Place via the old Corn Exchange buildings currently being restored, including a new pedestrian bridge and a cinema. People would be able to flow between that area and the Market Place.

The district council has already tidied up the paving around the trees along the Market Place frontage and large wooden planters have also been an added.

Each business would have a delineated section of frontage with fabric barriers, but licensing issues would need to be resolved first as it would be an extension to their premises licence.

The spokesman said the restoration of the fountain by the Civic Trust with help of a Heritage Lottery grant has been a catalyst for pushing forward with the scheme, in order to best show off the newly restored historic feature.

The Marquis of Bristol is due to officially switch on the fountain on Friday at midday and he and guests will sample the water when it will be blessed by the Vicar of Sleaford.