A major restoration project to bring a derelict eyesore in Sleaford town centre back to life is under way with plans for a cinema in the second phase.
Now, The Standard has been granted access to see the project so far at 17-19 Market Place being carried out behind the scenes by local restoration experts J. Hodgson and Son.
The company already has permission to renovate the frontage of 17-18 Market Place to something more in character with the 17th and 18th century building. Number 17 was originally a draper’s/haberdashery shop, with his house next door at number 18 stretching back to the river with its own gardens, dating from 1825.
The plan is to turn the front of the building downstairs into a shop unit, create a second shop unit behind and two flats upstairs.
The new shop front is being supported by NKDC’s shop frontage enhancement scheme for the town centre.
A spokesman for J. Hodgson and Son said: “We have not marketed the site yet, so when we start we hope a tenant will come forward and we can cater the building to their individual needs.”
The company spokesman explained the building had got into such a state that the district council made emergency repairs. His company moved in afterwards and have re-roofed it as a leaking gutter had rotted away timbers and brickwork.
He said: “NKDC felt that it was in danger of collapse. Those works were instrumental in saving the building. Otherwise it would have been beyond economic repair for us.”
He said they have stripped out plasterwork and old fire escapes. “Some of the old windows will be lovely once restored,” he said. “There is a lot of stuff that is salvagable and that’s great. The end gable at the rear is stone and that will come up a treat.”
They have had to remove the roofing of the rear annexe of number 17, but it only dated back to the 1930s when it was a furniture shop, along with a more modern flat roofed section also to go.
There are plans to open an archway to the side of number 17 and lead through to a courtyard which would provide access to a proposed two-screen cinema on the site of an ugly, vandalised, metal framed building that would be demolished.
The yard would link to Bristol Arcade and across to Money’s Yard via a pedestrian bridge if funding can be secured for North Kesteven District Council’s Heart of Sleaford Project to revitalise the centre of the town.
They will also tidy up the rear of the two neighbouring restaurants. These are on the site of the former Corn Exchange building that was pulled down after a fire, replaced with a 1960s building.
The old office space above will have replacement windows, the frontage repainted and better insulation to become two flats.
To the rear is a flat roof extension. All that remains of the Corn Exchange at the back is the fascinating and extensive network of brick built cellars, known as the Buttermarket. These are to be preserved, beside the proposed cinema.