Sleaford’s market could be on the move within months if plans to revive its fortunes get the go-ahead.
There have been suggestions that parts of Southgate or the Market Place could be pedestrianised and market traders suggested a temporary ‘roll out’ zebra crossing on market days, but the shorter term solution now favoured is relocating stalls to Money’s Yard, close to the Citizen’s Advice centre.
The shift would offer direct pedestrian access from Southgate, adjacent parking for shoppers, and eventually a link to the exciting Heart of Sleaford project designed to connect Money’s Yard with Bristol Arcade and the old Corn Exchange via a bridge to form a new retail and entertainment area.
Town Council representatives have been meeting with officers from North Kesteven District Council and its retail regeneration consultants, Kerching, focusing on securing the market’s future.
Deputy chairman of the Town Council, Anthony Brand, said: “We have looked at alternative sites and the one at the top of the list is Money’s Yard.”
He said NKDC seem agreeable as they would regain parking space in the Market Place.
The Town Council has managed the market on behalf of NKDC for several years.
At its next meeting, the Town Council will decide whether to renew its market licence, due to expire in October.
Coun Brand and fellow councillor Adrian Snookes have been negotiating with NKDC.
Coun Brand said: “NKDC have indicated that the district council would not itself wish to operate a market. Therefore, we seek ratification from Sleaford Town Council to renew the market licence in order to preserve this important feature of our market town.”
Coun Brand said: “After the licence is renewed we can start to look more positively and deeply at how the Town Council can start to regenerate the market.”
They also accepted there were a number of factors involved in its decline, including restrictions to pedestrian footfall by a lack of safe crossings to the market place leaving it isolated, and they called for a rebalancing between pedestrians and traffic.
Market trader Ian Johnson of Fairprice Furnishings said he and fellow traders accepted by moving it may make the market more profitable and secure its future.
In the last three years, Mr Johnson said, the market had seen 28 traders come and go.
He said: “If people cannot come to the market, then we will come to them. We could create a certain atmosphere and ambience and energy to pull people in there. The regeneration of Sleaford is all-important and we are part of that jigsaw.”