Councillors at North Kesteven District Council have bacled their plans for a £1.2 million refurbishment project of Sleaford’s National Centre of Craft and Design – despite concerns over the loss of “magnificent” rooftop views.
The plans will see the top two floors of the building given over to MRI Software, which will move from its current premises in Westgate.
To compensate, a 200sqm ground floor extension is requested which will create a ground floor gallery, an artist workshop, a children’s zone and a performing arts studio.
It will also see a large indoor bistro and an outdoor seating area created on an extended platform over the River Slea.
Concerns were raised over the loss of the exhibition space, the impact on the remains of the former wharf for the Navigation Warehouse, the encroachment onto the river and the loss of public space – particularly when the flag raising took place on Armed Forces Day.
At the planning committee meeting on Tuesday, ward member Coun David Suiter supported the objections and lamented the loss of the rooftop views of Sleaford and criticises the design.
“The design is not very good, it should be outstanding,” he said.
Coun Gill Ogden said the rooftop gallery offered “magnificent” views.
Council leader Richard Wright, however, called it the “view of a thousand air conditioning units” adding he thought it was a “blight”.
He said it would enhance the building, improving sustainability and viability and address public concerns.
“Let’s not forget that before we converted this building it was a dilapidated seed unit covered in bird mess,” he said.
He added the development could begin the creation of a new public realm and mark the start of renewed investment in the town centre.
Recommending approval, council officer Mark Williets said the NCCD, also known as The Hub, had evolved quite dramatically since it was built in the 1930s.
He said the changes “give the building clear definition and welcomes people to it.”