Action for conserving town

Dining Out

Words by:
Melanie Burton
Featured in:
January 2018

Classed as one of the largest parishes in East Anglia, the Lincolnshire market town of Holbeach has enjoyed an exciting year of developments during 2017 and looks set for a promising 2018 too.
The long-awaited £5.4m scheme to improve the wonderfully named Peppermint Junction (Peppermint used to be grown in the area), where the A151 from Spalding meets the A17 at Holbeach, is now near completion.

There are now two roundabouts, the main one on the A17 allowing safe access onto it and greatly reducing HGV traffic coming into the town centre, and a second smaller roundabout unlocking the much-anticipated Food Enterprise Zone (FEZ) on one side and development land for up to 900 houses on the other side.

Work is anticipated to start on the FEZ later in 2018 (aptly named Peppermint Park), providing highly skilled jobs, cutting-edge technology including robotics and research aimed at the agri-tech/agri-food industry to ensure it remains a world leader.

“Inspired by the significant investments above, the town is seeing a great opportunity for the future growth and prosperity of the town centre itself and as a result has applied to Historic England to become a Heritage Action Zone,” explained South Holland District Councillor, Tracey Carter.

“The aim will be to use the town’s heritage to help regenerate the town centre, in partnership with South Holland District Council and Lincolnshire County Council.

“There will be a clear focus on the Conservation Area and particularly the centre of town where five roads meet in the middle, which is not exactly pedestrian friendly.

“Removing some of the street clutter, reducing the amount of heavy goods vehicles using the town centre and giving pedestrians priority over traffic will make this rapidly improving town a lovely place to visit and give visitors the chance to enjoy the range of shops, pubs, restaurants and leisure activities on offer.”

While the work has been ongoing into the Heritage Action Zone, an additional team has been created working on smaller projects within the town.

The Holbeach Town Action Team has been working on delivering new projects such as pop-up shops and markets to help increase footfall to boost the local economy and also introducing theatre into Holbeach to attract more visitors to the town.

The team was formed after independent retail expert Corin Birchall visited every town business and produced a report on how Holbeach could boost its shopping centre and help it compete with neighbouring towns such as Boston, Spalding, King’s Lynn and Wisbech.

In his report he said while Holbeach had 15 per cent of empty retail units, only four or five would need to be filled to put the town in line with the national average of 11.4 per cent.

His ideas included inviting successful independent retailers to move into the town to broaden the range of its retail offer, sprucing up vacant shops or moving retailers into them, more inventive window displays and staging festivals and speciality markets.

Councillor Carter is one of the driving forces behind the Holbeach Action team, together with Councillor Isobel Hutchinson.

“Lots of new exciting projects are being worked on for 2018. A Facebook page was created in 2017 @theholbeachlocal which now has more than 1,100 followers and ensures residents and those interested in visiting the town are kept up to date with offers, events and information regarding new shops in the town,” said Tracey.

“This year has seen an increase in independent traders offering unique and unusual gifts. The town would really like to see a bookshop and also clothing retailers join it during 2018.”

As well as the retail sector, the food industry also plays an important part in the economy of Holbeach.

Holbeach is home to the National Centre for Food Manufacturing (NCFM) and the University of Lincoln, Holbeach Campus, which is a leading UK centre for food industry innovation, education and skills development, will be at the forefront of the new Food Enterprise Zone.

In addition the university’s sponsorship of the University Academy Holbeach and the adjacent Primary Academy which share the same site with NCFM, has created an educational hub for the town.

Through its sponsorship of the academies, the university is seeking to improve the educational landscape and raise attainment and aspirations for young people in the area.

The links between the academies and NCFM means that the centre is able to work with young people to raise awareness of the huge array of career opportunities in the agri-food industry and it does this by jointly hosting careers and ‘have a go events’ for young people.

Professor Val Braybrooks, Dean of the National Centre for Food Manufacturing said: “NCFM is an important facet to Holbeach town and our work has certainly put Holbeach on the map as far as the food industry is concerned.

“We are now seeing a steady stream of international visitors from the sector and as our research grows, we are enjoying developing links with other academic institutions.

“We have had visitors from several international universities recently and are currently hosting scholars and visiting students from Iraq, Nigeria, Ghana, Poland, France and Réunion Island so our work is bringing Holbeach to the attention of a wide audience and of course our guests are making use of local services while they are with us, which is great for the town.

“Our partnership with the academies cements the relationship between the university and the community. This both aids the interface of NCFM and the food industry with young people but more widely ensures that young people are engaged with the whole university, which aids aspiration.

“We are the university’s family in Holbeach and this is a very special and enriching feature of the town.”

Businesses in Holbeach and the surrounding area are also receiving support and funding from South Holland District Council to help them expand.

It has successfully processed grant funding for more than 50 businesses through its Grants4Growth programme, committing more than £430,000 in grants towards capital assets for business.

The grants, which offer the opportunity for eligible businesses in Greater Lincolnshire to receive financial assistance towards the purchase of machinery, equipment and other assets up to the value of 28% of the total cost, provide that extra bit of funding to businesses who can demonstrate the potential for positive business growth.

Justin Leckie, programme manager for Grants4Growth, says the programme is a great way of providing businesses with that extra bit of help to start putting their growth plans into action.

“It is fantastic to see so many businesses benefitting from this funding opportunity and helping them to realise their growth ambitions by providing a funding ‘springboard’ to turn their plans into actions.”

The importance of the food industry to the economy of Holbeach is well understood, with several major food processing and farming businesses including Bakkavor, QV Foods, DGM and Jepco amongst others based in the vicinity and directly employing many of Holbeach’s residents.

However, for food manufacturing businesses across the UK, Holbeach is synonymous with the University of Lincoln’s National Centre for Food Manufacturing (NCFM). Some 250 businesses in the UK access the campus’ services annually, including major brands and major own label manufacturers.

As the largest manufacturing sector in the UK, food production accounts for 16 per cent of all manufacturing output and in Lincolnshire agri-food accounts for 24 per cent of all employment.

The NCFM has therefore been developed as a major resource to support this important sector and boasts outstanding partnerships with employers and excellent resources including a purpose-built specialist food factory facility for training and research.

Opportunities to develop talent are a core activity for NCFM, delivering a range of training and skills provision, covering all aspects of the food supply chain from operational to director level and supporting around 2,000 people from 250 UK businesses each year.

These programmes are specifically designed to support individuals and their employers, so they can be completed part-time alongside their work. Using the project work and assignments then gives an opportunity to address requirements to benefit organisational needs whilst utilising the expertise and resources at NCFM.

As a leading apprenticeship provider to the sector, NCFM has been instrumental in the development of the UK’s first ever Degree Apprenticeships, specifically designed for the food industry to deliver the higher level skills needed by the food manufacturing sector.

Launched in September 2017, the first students were welcomed to their studies by Government minister, the Rt. Hon. John Hayes CBE MP, who recognised this as a landmark moment for the food sector.

Coming from a variety of food businesses across the UK, with most funded through the new apprenticeship levy, more than 80 apprentices are now working towards degrees whilst employed in rewarding careers in the food industry and on their way to becoming the food technologists, technical managers, operations managers and directors of the future.

Sharon Green, deputy head of the NCFM, said: “The food and drink industry represents the single largest manufacturing sector in the UK. The sector is highly innovative and is already adopting many advanced technologies, which require ready access to higher level skills; new Degree Apprenticeships are specifically designed to address this need.

“For everyone here at NCFM, it represents an exciting opportunity to support the next generation of food industry leaders. We are particularly pleased that we are able to support local businesses and their employees and create locally accessible degree level career opportunities by working in partnership with our local businesses.”

Local sponsors include Bakkavor, Jakeman’s Confectioners, Tulip Ltd, QV Foods, Flamingo, Freshtime, Produce World and Lincolnshire Field Produce.

Cian Short, group apprentice manager for Bakkavor, which is based in the town, said: ‘‘At Bakkavor we want our apprentices to have the best access to high quality provision and the right courses. Having Higher and Degree Apprenticeships specifically developed for the sector means that from day one our apprentices receive learning and development which is just right for them.’’

Samantha Gornall, apprenticeship and training coordinator from Holbeach firm Tulip Ltd said: “Degree and Higher Apprenticeships are one of the ways we can bring in and nurture talent in our business and as a company we are delighted to have helped facilitate this important development.”

In addition to skills, the centre’s innovation is aided by a partnership with more than 30 suppliers of technology and equipment to the food manufacturing sector.

The success of the NCFM is soon to be propelled further with the planned new Food Enterprise Zone development.

The new centre will provide ready access to scientific and technical business support to the high-tech, innovative small businesses that the FEZ seeks to attract adding further to the reputation of Holbeach town as a centre for food innovation.

Based in the heart of Lincolnshire, Ashwood Homes Developments has built up an enviable reputation during its 25 years in the residential property market.

Each one of the Holbeach-based company’s developments is carefully designed to provide a sense of space to suit the needs of its inhabitants whether they are a family, a retired couple or a single person.

With a portfolio of homes ranging from two-bed properties up to those with five bedrooms, Ashwood Homes Developments has something to suit every budget.

Sales manager Chloe King says the company prides itself on being a little different to traditional housebuilders, adding: “Our properties come with added extras including carpets and integrated kitchen appliances as standard within the price.

“We try to build homes that suit people’s lifestyles while making sure we focus on the quality too.”

When it comes to buying a new home, Ashwood Homes Developments also offers a tailored package supporting buyers from the moment they reserve their dream house right through to legal completion.

Chloe says the firm’s Help To Buy scheme is also proving a popular choice in helping customers to take the next step up the property ladder.

“If you require a mortgage, our knowledgeable sales team is here to guide you through the process and help you every step of the way alongside our Independent Financial Advisors,” she adds.

“We’re proud to say that over the years we have provided employment for many local developments and with the ambitious plans we have for the future, there will continue to be a whole range of job opportunities to be had.”

For more information about Ashwood Homes Developments visit

Holbeach has a range of small independent family run businesses and one which has proved highly popular with visitors from far and wide is the Caffè Aurora coffee shop.

It has been rated by TripAdvisor as the number one coffee shop venue in the whole of the county and has won Certificates of Excellence in both 2016 and 2017 along with two consecutive five star ratings for Food Hygiene.

In addition it has achieved a continual five star review rating on Facebook, establishing the highest level of accolades and setting the standards for others to aspire to.

Caffè Aurora in the High Street was opened in January 2015 by Rosemary Cameron and her son-in-law Cormac O’Hara and continues to go from strength to strength.

“Caffè Aurora has confirmed its position not only as one of the region’s favourite places to meet but also one of the best,” said Cormac.

Its motto ‘freshly made and family run’ highlights the cornerstones of this family owned facility – and according to the customer reviews on TripAdvisor that is exactly what it does.

Serving fresh, high quality food, prepared in their own kitchen using quality-tested produce and innovative recipes, and all delivered in a modern, relaxed, very clean and extremely friendly coffee house style café, there is no wonder customers return time and time again.

District Councillor and member of Holbeach Town Action team Tracey Carter said every coffee shop that opens in town benefits other businesses and this was a particularly great achievement for the coffee shop.

“Achieving Certificate of Excellence awards two years running from TripAdvisor, and in 2017 also being listed as #1 ranking Coffee lounge/tea room café in the entire county is a particular achievement,” she said.

The Horse and Groom is a centuries old Coaching Inn. The premises appear to have been built in the early 1800s. The inn is low roofed with the usual yard, stabling and paddock at the rear.

One of the earliest recorded licensees was William Motley, by trade a tailor, from 1855-1864. Conveniently located in the heart of Holbeach town they are well placed to offer freshly cooked food, drink and executive style en suite accommodation to people passing through, or stopping in the area.

Their rooms are located in a converted stable to the rear of the pub, and cost from £55 per room, per night. The rooms also benefit from a private parking space. The pub and the rooms are all Wi-Fi enabled. Each of the three double rooms have under floor heating, flat screen digital TV, hairdryer, and complimentary tea and coffee making facilities.

Mossop and Bowser is an established firm of solicitors based in Holbeach and Long Sutton who have been offering legal advice including advice on Conveyancing, Business & Personal Disputes, Family & Matrimonial, Company & Commercial, Agricultural Law and Private Client work since 1826. Many local families have been clients for generations and the firm has a long and enviable reputation within the area.

Caroline Cunnington joined the firm in December 2016 to expand their private client department. She advises on will writing, estate planning, estate administration, lasting powers of attorney as well as trust planning and administration. She has been a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners since 1996.

The firm believes in traditional values and offers its clients a friendly, professional one-to-one service. The firm has been accredited with the Law Society’s quality mark, Lexcel, since 2003 which is awarded by the Law Society annually to recognise the level of care they give to every client.

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