Recriminations were flying across the debating chamber as North Kesteven District Councillors (NKDC) eventually voted unanimously in favour of ditching a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for a controversial link road plan.
Councillors followed officers’ advice not to proceed with a CPO for land needed for the construction of the proposed new link road between Boston Road and Mareham Lane.
The CPO was put ‘on hold’ after its main backer, Tesco, pulled out of building a new store on the former Advanta Seeds site off Southgate. The road would have facilitated the Bass Maltings redevelopment as well as providing access to the new store.
The council resolved last year to use its compulsory purchase powers after Boston Road Recreation Ground owners - Sleaford Town Council - refused to sell the land. On January 8, NKDC received the news from Tesco they were not proceeding with the proposed new store development.
It was explained to members that the current CPO was highly unlikely to succeed as Lincolnshire County Council has already withdrawn its request to the Ministry of Transport for a Side Roads Order (SRO) to close the level crossing at Southgate as part of the scheme.
Coun Marianne Overton welcomed the decision: “I understand this has been difficult but it gives us a great opportunity for a re-think to make a big difference to Sleaford and learn from it. We need plans and proposals but driven by the people rather than led by the district council.”
But Coun John Money said as a former Sleafordian he had a very heavy heart, describing this decision as a ‘golden opportunity lost’.
He added: “This was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for Sleaford.”
He said the new Tesco could have been built by now but for the delays caused by the opposition from Sleaford Town Council and a vocal minority, which meant other supermarkets were no longer interested either.
He said the Maltings’ developers, Avant Homes could easily pull out and the existing Tesco site could no longer be regenerated either.
He said: “I speak to the people in Sleaford and there is a stark realisation that this is not going to happen. I have a growing resentment towards Sleaford Town Council.”
Town, district and county councillor Mark Allan said: “This was a badly thought out proposal.
“It was never going to happen and now we can come forward with something that has the backing of everyone. Sleaford Town Council have done nothing but represent the people of Sleaford.”
Coun Grenville Jackson, of Sleaford Town Council, added that it was the town council’s desire to now work with NKDC for a better solution for Sleaford and North Kesteven.
Council officers and partners will continue to work on new proposals with potential developers.