Councillors have given the go ahead to plans after being told North Kesteven District Council’s £1.2 million refurbishment project for Sleaford’s National Centre of Craft and Design will have greatly improved facilities.
The approved 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.
The authority says the food and drinks offer will also be “significantly improved” by a large indoor bistro and an outdoor seating area on an extended platform over the River Slea.
Recommending approval at the committee yesterday (Tuesday), officers stated in their report: “The National Centre for Craft and Design is the largest venue in England entirely dedicated to the exhibition, celebration and promotion of international, national and local craft and design.
“It is a tourist attraction in its own right but also plays a community role for residents of North Kesteven both in terms of access to arts and cultural experiences but also offers an educational role through supporting learning for all ages (including pre-school) as well as a café facility.”
They say the proposal will help secure alternative income by providing “improved facilities at ground floor level where they are more accessible and user friendly”.
Concerns have been raised by the Sleaford and District Civic Trust and others over the loss of exhibition space and the impact on potential remains of the former wharf for the Navigation Warehouse.
Sleaford town councillor Ken Fernandes and the trust also have concerns over the encroachment onto the river and the loss of the public space around the gallery – something Councillor Fernandes says will “compromise the flag raising on Armed Forces Day”.
The plans follow a month-long consultation which involved 600 individuals and groups.