National chains show interest in Riverside units

The Riverside Precinct, Sleaford. EMN-150121-133446001
The Riverside Precinct, Sleaford. EMN-150121-133446001

Lincolnshire Co-operative has revealed deatils of how it wants to breathe new life into its Riverside Shopping Centre in Sleaford - with national chains said to be interested.

The society’s agent, Banks Long and Co, is preparing to submit a planning application within a couple of weeks to North Kesteven District Council for the pedestrianised area off Southgate.

Director James Butcher said: “We want to begin the first phase of work - which will involve a substantial investment - in the spring. The aim is to inject fresh impetus into this important development, which is made up of 17 retail and office units, plus some first-floor flats.”

Phase one includes opening up the central courtyard area, removing the bandstand and a display unit, along with plans to remove the colonnades fronting the shops along the southern side. Existing, dated cladding would also be stripped from shop fronts. A second phase could upgrade the western block.

Mr Butcher went on: “The Co-op have had various discussions with the district council over the past 12 months and on the back of that we have appreciated the shop units have fallen into a fairly sad state of repairs. We are taking steps to get it back to how it was.”

He said since the decision by Tesco not to vacate its current site to a new store there had been enquiries by national retailers.

He said: “We can offer that bigger floor space needed by combining existing units.”

He added this intention to combine units had led to some shops staying unfilled. The Co-op expected the first phase of work to take 13 weeks and existing businesses will continue trading as normal.

There had been reports in the past about potential businesses being deterred from the precinct by high rents - in response the Co-op’s Michelle Scott said: “Our unit rent price is competitive with others in the local area and we hope that our improvements will attract new enterprises to the shopping centre.”