The deadlock over the future of a site once planned for a new supermarket but shelved by Tesco could soon be broken, according to officials.
The supermarket giant stunned authorities when it opted to drop multi-million pound plans for a new tore on the former Advanta Seeds site back in January 2015 when the company had to dramatically reassess its financial situation due to falling profits.
North Kesteven District Council has since vowed to negotiate with all parties involved to come up with a new plan for the site - possibly mixed retail and other uses - and bring about a quick sale of the land. This has led to surveys and studies to draw up a strategy to regenerate the whole town centre.
Now, those negotiations appear to be nearing a conclusion. Jessica Walker, Tesco’s local communications manager, has told The Standard: “We are reviewing our site in Sleaford with the council and are making good progress. We hope to be able to provide an update in the new year.”
Town council clerk Kevin Martin added further optimism, saying: “The council has been involved in meetings with the landowner and their agents as regards a potential development of the Advanta Seeds site. The council’s interest being around any possible site access off Boston Road and how that might impact on the Recreation Ground.
“I would suggest that those discussions, with the town council at least, are now close to completion. I am scheduled to report again to my council on January 11.”
He added: “I am genuinely hopeful that an announcement will be made in the coming weeks as regards the site. I am not able to explain further at present as we are bound by third party confidentiality requirements.”
A spokesman for NKDC added: “Tesco is having ongoing discussion with NKDC in respect of pre-planning advice for their site in Sleaford.”
This covers matters such as the suitability of potential uses for the site and appropriate access arrangements.
The original scheme would have been accessed by a new link road between Boston Road and Mareham Lane, cutting through the Boston Road Recreation Ground. With its owners, Sleaford Town Council, unwilling to sell, a compulsory purchase order had been in the offing.
A new pedestrian bridge would have spanned the railway line at Southgate with closure of the level crossing as part of Network Rail safety requirements.
Planned conversion of Tesco’s existing site as a retail park was also scuppered and Avant Homes’ designs to regenerate the Maltings as mixed retail, office and housing have been on hold without the additional funding for the necessary road access.