District councillors have given the green light to transform a prominent building plot on one of the approaches to Sleaford town centre into new shops and office units, making the town more appealing to new, large-scale retailers.
The revised project has been put forward by Heckington-based developer Melbourne Holdings for the premises at 86-90 Southgate, including the the Dulux decorating centre, Darmon’s funhouse and bar, a taxi office, a tattoo parlour and hot food takeaway at the corner of Station Road. It will see a re-building of the site on three floors with a completely new frontage to suit what is seen by NKDC planners as a prominent site in a position leading into the town centre, close to the conservation area.
North Kesteven’s planning committee considered the application last night (Tuesday) and officers explained the design had been re-worked from its original last year with officers from the Economic Development department to better reflect the town’s retail space needs and circumstances.
They said it creates more space for pedestrians along the street, creates a gateway building and meets the need for modern retail space with flexibility to satisfy bigger retail chains and act as a catalyst for further regeneration in the area.
The plan is to redevelop the site to create a retail and office space. The ground and first floors would be divided into three retail units, while the third floor would comprise four office units, with a roof garden. Each unit has separate access but it would be flexible if a tenant required two or more units.
The corner of the building would form the main entrance, set back to create more footpath space with a colonnade to form an impressive aspect to the building at a gateway to the town.
It would be clad in coloured concrete with windows set back to allow shadowing effects to accentuate the design, according to the officer’s report to councillors.
Agent for the developers, Robert Doughty, said the design reflects other local buildings and successful retail designs elsewhere.
Ward member Coun Keith Dolby said: “That particular area of Sleaford has been a miss-match of buildings ever since I remember it. It used to be a car showroom with a petrol pump on the front. I think this building looks absolutely great.”
Coun Kate Cook: “The reason I initially came on to the council was to support Sleaford in being as good as it could be and this is a classic example of the massive improvememts we can aspire to. I’m really excited about it. To have purpose built office space is also a brilliant thing. It gives people a really good impression of what Sleaford could become as hopefully it’s a catalyst for change. The town will become smarter and that’s wonderful.”
Other members described it as a vast improvement, elegant and a potential boost to draw in investors. All but one member approved the project.
The original plan submitted last year was for a three storey scheme comprising a variety of small retail units, indoor market and food court with a second floor wine bar/restaurant. The scheme was revised following concerns regarding the visual impact of the proposal and also the nature and scale of the units proposed.
Melbourne Holdings also owns the neighbouring former Jobcentre building at 82-84 Southgate which has already received permission earlier this year for conversion from offices and retail to form ground floor retail units with new shop fronts and three apartments above.
NKDC Economic Development Manager Alan Gray said: “As this development will occupy a key gateway site into Sleaford its look and feel are crucial to set the tone for the town centre.
“The approved design provides a statement building that creates a positive impression for the southern entry point, improving the overall visual impression of this part of town and meeting a number of the Council’s objectives for the enhancement of Sleaford as a place to live, work, shop and enjoy leisure time.”
It overcame, he said, one of the constraints of Sleaford’s desirability as a shopping destination; the physical limitations of many of the central premises which do not suit national multiples or support the sale of comparison goods such as clothes, fashion and household items.