Plans to revitalise the Heart of Sleaford took a significant step forward as North Kesteven District Council’s Executive Board unanimously agreed to recommend to full council to approve the purchase of a 99-year lease for land to develop a cinema and public realm.
If given the final go-ahead by the authority, around £1.5 million could be invested from the Council’s capital programme, providing a cinema and associated areas of public space, including a pedestrian footbridge over the River Slea connecting Money’s Yard to Market Place. This would be subject to a viable business plan and a commercial lease with a third party cinema operator.
Coun Richard Wright, Leader of the Council, said: “This is an important milestone in the redevelopment of the town centre.
“We’ve been working hard on the regeneration of Sleaford for some time with partners and other organisations who are all committed to seeing the town thrive and survive.
“One of the key aspects picked up on when the masterplan for the town was created was the need to give residents more of a reason to spend their money in the Sleaford rather than going elsewhere. The Heart of Sleaford project would not only do this, but also attract visitors from further afield as well, boosting the local economy and supporting local businesses.”
If approved, this would be the latest in a number of investments in the town by NKDC.
A spokesman for landowners J. Jodgson and Sons, who are developing 17-19 Market Place buildings in front of the proposed cinema site welcomed the decision, saying: “The potential involvement of NKDC in purchasing a lease on part of the site will allow us to concentrate on refurbishing what remains of the former Buttermarket which formed the basement to the old Corn Exchange. To see this building put back into use, we feel, is an exciting opportunity and together with the proposed cinema development, provides an important focal point for the Heart of Sleaford project.
“We are very grateful to NKDC and all its officers and members involved in pushing this project forward. Everyone involved has worked tirelessly over the years.”
A final decision on the Heart of Sleaford project will be made by Full Council on Thursday, April 26.
In 2012, around £3 million was spent on upgrading and improving the facilities at Sleaford Leisure Centre; in 2015 works got under way on the £8.65 million regeneration of Newfield Road; in 2016 the new Grantham Road car park, designed for shoppers and commuters alike, opened; and in 2017 the authority spent £1.7 million on the purchase of Sleaford Moor Enterprise Park, with master plans for the site currently being drawn up.