A Heckington businesswoman who has been trading in the village for 25 years says her ladieswear retail trade has been effectively ‘wiped out’ overnight after planning officials refused her application.
Jan Palmer, owner of Lindsey James ladieswear, had applied to North Kesteven District Council to be able to use Unit 1A on Heckington Business Park for some retail but mainly re-focussing on online sales in a shift to follow market trends. She believed overheads on her current premises on Boston Road in the village had become unviable.
She told The Standard she had not concentrated on the online service previously but was in the process of developing her website.
She added: “Basically the planners would not consider that I wasn’t using this as a ruse to go for full retail, because I couldn’t demonstrate or more importantly prove, that I was going to do internet. So now, I’m going to have to close the retail side of the business after 25 years.”
Ms Palmer cited examples in business parks around Sleaford where firms were trading as partly retail and feared for potential future retail expansion in growing villages where traditional shopping centres were becoming too small and restrictive to serve the population.
However, planning officers stated in their decision, that according to the district’s Local Plan for larger rural villages, “the scale of retail provision should be proportionate and strengthen their role in providing mainly convenience shopping and local services to ‘meet local needs’. The applicant’s business, specialist clothing sales, clearly meets a wider than ‘local’ need. Whilst it is recognised that the applicant currently trades from a premises in Heckington which she rents, the use is one that should be located within a higher order centre (a town).”
Ms Palmer said will drop her retail side completely and seriously consider relocating outside the district. “I just cannot believe I am in this position,” she said.
Heckington Rural ward member Coun Stewart Ogden commented: “I totally support Jan Palmer having a business in Heckington and would not want to see it leave the village or district as she has served the community well.”
He agreed Heckington was a growing village and facilities should grow with it.