Plans for a £1.2million refurbishment of Sleaford’s National Centre of Craft and Design will secure jobs with a major employer and create an enhanced, modernised space for artists, say district council officials.
Under the scheme, the top two floors of the building will be occupied by MRI Software which will move from its existing premises in Westgate.
All the existing features of the NCCD will be retained by the addition of a 200 square metre ground floor extension in front of the centre.
Subject to planning permission being granted, work is expected to begin early next year.
Council Leader Richard Wright said: “The work will help us to attract even more visitors to Sleaford by broadening the variety of arts and entertainment on offer and we will also create a local hub whilst still maintaining and developing the centre’s national significance. There will also be much needed conferencing facilities.
“As a council we are committed to championing the arts, something we have done for more than a quarter of a century.”
The plans for the scheme were drawn up after a month- long public consultation which engaged with more than 600 individuals and groups and confirmed not only high levels of local engagement in the centre but also highlighted a number of development areas.
Coun Lindsey Cawrey, Executive Board Member with special responsibility for leisure, said she was delighted by the level of engagement in the consultation.
Making use of the feedback, concept plans have been drawn up which show the development of a ground floor gallery, an artist workshop, a children’s zone and a performing arts studio. The food and drinks offer will also be significantly improved by a large indoor bistro and an outdoor seating area taking in views of the River Slea.
MRI Software acquired long term Sleaford employers Qube Global Software in October 2017, an organisation that had operated in the town since 1982.
Regional MRI Software Marketing Director James Lavery, who manages a team based out of the Sleaford office employing more than 60 people, said: “Our Sleaford team is a key part of international operations and will continue to play a major role delivering property software to businesses all over the world.
“Our move to this new facility demonstrates our commitment to the town, to the county and to the talent that emerges in the region including that from the University of Lincoln. We’re proud of our company’s roots in Sleaford and are looking forward to being part of an important creative hub for the area.”
In April LK2 Architects were awarded the contract to do the redesign.
You can give your views on the development by emailing NCCDRefurbishment@n-kesteven.gov.uk
The new ground floor extension will fill some of the paved space between the NCCD and Sleaford Town Hall. Mayor of Sleaford Adrian Snookes said he welcomed the plans if they encouraged greater use of the NCCD but still had mixed feelings.
He commented: “We are very blessed to have the centre in Sleaford, but there are issues in extending it which could impose on the town hall, However we still have Eastgate Green and we can extend our activities there and use the Market Place.”