City centre a magnet for visitors

Dining Out

Words by:
Glynis Fox
Featured in:
March 2020

New survey findings report that 83 per cent of city shoppers love to support independent businesses. Glynis Fox reports on how a thriving retail environment in Lincoln is responding to changing demands.

Lincoln certainly has a wonderful mix of homegrown and niche businesses, which attract locals and visitors alike. Despite the often reported challenges facing the high street, new independents continue to join the mix.

But Lincoln is also attracting more multi-national names too, which is ensuring that the city remains a real magnet for people looking for a destination which has the power to bring in increasing numbers of shoppers, leisure seekers and tourists, who want to spend time in a city which also offers historic attractions and crowd pulling events.

The Lincoln Business Improvement Group (Lincoln BIG) has more than 800 levy payers. Last November they voted in favour of it continuing its work for the next five years (2020-2025) and it is working hard to support all ‘member’ traders.

Retail PR specialists Cartwright Communications conducted the recent Midlands High Street Survey, which gathered data about the shopping habits of residents in Lincoln and Nottingham, Leicester, Derby and Birmingham.

Managing director, Liz Cartwright said: “At a time when empty shopfronts are on the rise and online retailers continue to grow, it is often reported that city centres are struggling to attract the footfall needed to remain profitable in the current climate.

“However, recent findings suggest that the desire to support small businesses is driving footfall to the high street and encouraging residents to shop in store, buy locally and receive customer service in person.”

Bars and restaurants, coffee shops and tea rooms, hairdressers and beauty salons all rank above retailers as the reason people visit their local high street, proving that services and experiences are starting to overtake the traditional retail focus of city centres.

Once a firm favourite, it is claimed that fashion retailers now rank fourth in popularity, but whilst this may correlate directly to the rise in fast fashion websites, 50 per cent of responses stated that in-store retailers do not do enough to entice shoppers to the high street.

Amidst the rising demand for leisure experiences, the survey discovered a call for retailers to improve experiential shopping and to do more to encourage shopping behaviours to return to the high street.

Liz Cartwright said the survey had asked people what they wanted to see more of on the high street. Answers ranged from free parking and events, to more jewellery and shoe shops.

“We had a wide range of responses for what people would like to see more of, which shows that there is still work to be done in terms of master planning in city centres. One of the answers that stood out was the demand for sustainable shopping options.

“Zero waste shops are currently on the rise, so it will be interesting to see how growing concerns for the environment will affect the retail and leisure industry in years to come.”

Shops, businesses and organisations based in an area stretching from the old Ritz Cinema in the city’s High Street to Newport Arch have been pledged first-class support to help them achieve increasing success over the next five years.

They are among more than 800 Lincoln BIG levy payers who voted in favour of the Business Improvement Group continuing to support them from 2020-2025.

Lincoln BIG is now poised to spend £1 million a year, over each of the next five years, providing a wide range of ongoing support and initiatives. The projected £5m budget will be covered by levy payer monies and other generated income.

Despite the ongoing challenges facing the high street, Lincoln BIG has stated its determination to continue working its magic, after drawing up a clearly defined plan for success.

Its priorities hinge on just three little words – Welcome, Experience and Value – which are aimed at making a difference to ‘member’ businesses.

Lincoln BIG chief executive, Sarah Loftus said: “We were thrilled to get voted back in for the next five years and we have been able to hit the ground running with our plans to help Lincoln to be a great place to run a business and the city to get more worldwide recognition.

“We chose our priorities for action for the coming five years carefully, to allow us to maximise every opportunity to make a difference.

“Our ‘Welcome’ priority recognises how vital a role a clean, vibrant and welcoming environment plays in encouraging people to visit Lincoln and spend as long as possible here enjoying our shops, sights and leisure facilities.

“We are taking action on this front by maintaining our warden service, responding to business requests to target areas for cleaning using our gum removal machine and vacuum for graffiti removal and delivering and managing the Lincoln in Bloom project, which brings a blaze of colour to the city’s streets.

“Lincoln BIG’s ‘Experience’ priority recognises the huge impact great events have in boosting city footfall and encouraging first-time visitors to return time and again. That is why we are working on the delivery of popular events and a fantastic Lincoln Imp Trail for the summer.

“Our third focus is firmly on ‘Value’. In our drive to give our levy-paying businesses the very best value for money, we want to encourage the take-up of bus and car park passes, to give at least 40 businesses up to 12 hours of targeted support under the Collaboration 4 Growth programme (which offers workshops and grants) and to promote the Park & Ride Service (based at Waitrose, off Nettleham Road) which we manage with Stagecoach.”

Martin Smith Opticians – World Class Eye Care
Lincoln is fortunate to be home to one of the most technologically advanced optometric practices in the world. Dr Martin Smith, BSc DOptom DipTp(IP) Higher Cert Glauc MCOptom, established his own practice on Saltergate in 2004, and is one of the most highly qualified Doctors of Optometry in the UK.

Dr Smith is a glaucoma and macular expert who can advise and treat many eye conditions within the practice and as an Independent Prescriber he is able to issue prescriptions for medication where appropriate, saving patients the need to visit the hospital eye department.

The practice supports this world class eye care with investment in the latest diagnostic equipment. In 2020 they have invested in a Zeiss Clarus 500 ultra-widefield, true colour, super high definition retinal camera. Martin Smith Opticians is one of the first practices, not only in the UK but amongst the first in the world, to offer this system which can image up to 90% of the retina, compared to standard cameras which see only 15%. This month the practice will also be amongst the first in the country to offer Yuniku, a high quality precision 3D printed eyewear system. No two faces are the same, so using 3D scanning technology to map the face, a frame is created which combines a perfect fit with the optimum orientation for your lenses, giving both a perfect fit and the best possible vision. You choose your frame and the finish and you are on your way to owning your own unique, tailor-made spectacles!

Dr Smith has also built one of the most highly qualified and industry awarded teams in the UK – the practice has won an incredible 10 national awards over the past two years including Optometrist of the Year 2015, 2019 (Finalist 2018), Dispensing Optician of the Year 2018, 2019 (Finalist 2017), UK Practice of the Year 2019 (Finalist 2018) and Practice Team of the Year (Finalist 2018).

Patients, whether they book consultations directly or are referred through the NHS, benefit from an inspiring and unique approach to eye care. Their experience will include advanced technology not available in most opticians, as well as a careful diagnosis and understanding of their vision and visual needs. From the moment you are welcomed by the friendly receptionists into the beautiful, bright, and stylish interior of the practice, patients will feel how engaging and vibrant this independent practice is. Help is always on hand with frame styling advice from the expert team and there is an intriguingly different range of eyewear, hand selected from leading international collections, from which to choose.

Feedback from patients reflects the practice’s commitment to service and quality: “My experience with Martin Smith Opticians is like my lenses – transparent, seamless and of the highest quality in terms of service and vision.”

“The technology in the practice is amazing and every time I visit I marvel at how impressive all of the equipment is compared to my previous optician.”

If you would like to book a comprehensive eye examination or consultation at Martin Smith Opticians call: 01522 521100,, or message on facebook, Martin Smith Opticians, 22 Saltergate, Lincoln LN2 1DH

Discover Lincoln’s historic Guildhall
In the heart of Lincoln’s busy High Street, shoppers flow through the archway of the historic Stonebow and Guildhall, many taking the time to photograph the impressive gateway, but unaware of what lies above. But be sure to take time to explore why these historic civic buildings are one of the favourite visitor attractions in the city on TripAdvisor and the winner of exclusive Visit England awards.

The site of the Stonebow and Guildhall has been in use since the 3rd century as a defensive city gate, and by the Mayor and Council since 1237. The current building evolved between 1390 and 1520 with the historic hall still hosting Full Council meetings and City Council events. The building is home to an impressive collection of civic regalia, including the sword of Richard II and the Mayor’s Chains of Office. Richard Storey, the Mayor’s Officer and city Swordbearer has instigated the Lincoln Charters Project, an exciting partnership with the University of Lincoln, to conserve and research the city’s rare Royal Charters.

Richard guides many of the tours and is a mine of information relating to the Guildhall, Lincoln’s heritage and historic past. Tel: 01522 873303 or visit:

Bespoke Interiors for your home
With more than 40 years’ experience of creating quality furnishings for homes across the county and beyond, Roger Davis Interiors offers outstanding choices of fabrics, wallcoverings, curtains and blinds you will not find elsewhere in the region.

The business is under the sole supervision of Adrian Davis, one of the founders. Visit the relaxed and friendly showroom in Lincoln to find all you need under one roof. Explore one of only four JAB shop-in-shop concepts in the UK and the very latest Luxaflex interactive blind display area, the first to be installed in the Midlands.

Roger Davis Interiors has recently not only become a ‘Sandberg shop’, but also has been appointed as a Cole & Son Partner; the only stockist in Lincolnshire giving you full access to the complete range of wallpapers from these two leading manufacturers.

Discover a range of high quality blinds, curtains, poles and tracks that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere other than in one of the larger cities. There is a full advice and measuring service as well as making and installing products, so naturally, Adrian and his team take pride in the finished result. It is this combination of quality of service and exclusive products which sets the company apart. Samples can also be brought to your home.

Call today to discuss your requirements: Tel: 01522 531371,

It’s going to be hot, hot, hot!
Work has started on what promises to be the hottest attraction in Lincoln this summer!

Lincoln BIG has taken the first steps towards creating its fantastic Imp Trail and everyone involved is determined that it will be the best-ever public trail installed in the city – surpassing the huge popularity of the former Lincoln Barons’ Charter and Lincoln Knights’ Trails.

The Trail, which is being produced in partnership with Wild In Art, education partner The EBP and charity St Barnabas, will feature 30 full-sized, colourful Imps, which are all being individually decorated to give each its very own identity.

Now artists, who have been selected after submitted scores of decorative designs for the Imps, are starting to paint the sculptures – some in public places – ahead of the May press launch.

The Trail itself will be launched on 4th July.

Flowers to mark a momentous year
Lincoln Cathedral will hold a spectacular Flower Festival this summer to mark 2020 as the Year of Cathedrals, commemorate the 800th anniversary of St Hugh and celebrate some of Lincolnshire’s notable figures who have made a significant impact on the region and beyond.

Last held at the historic landmark in 2012, the festival is being organised by the Cathedral’s voluntary flower team who are working with specially invited guests, local designers and flower clubs to transform the Cathedral with dozens of elaborate floral arrangements.

Each of the displays will tie in with the festival’s theme of ‘Vision’ which pays tribute to St Hugh, who organised the rebuild of the landmark following an earthquake in 1185 and was later canonised as a saint in 1220.
The festival will be held from 30th July to 3rd August, with a special preview evening taking place on Wednesday 29th July. As well as the flower arrangements, the festival will include plants, crafts and food stalls in and around the Cathedral for visitors to enjoy.

Visitors are also invited to a ‘Musical Meander’ on Friday 31st July which will include a musical concert and tour around the Cathedral for guests to take in the colourful arrangements and learn about the themes behind them.

Tickets to the festival are now available to purchase from the Cathedral website – £12.50 for adults and £10 for concessions (under 16s free). There is also a festival pass allowing visitors to return to the Flower Festival on each day of the event, which costs £40. Tickets to the preview evening on 29th July will be £25 which includes drinks and canapés, and entry to the Musical Meander on 31st July will be £30.

Turnbull Kitchens and Bathrooms opens a new showroom in Lincoln
The Sleaford based family business, established in 1895, began the new decade by opening their sixth Lincolnshire showroom on Deacon Road, Lincoln.

The expansive retail space spans over two floors and is believed to be the largest in the county. Offering beautiful in room settings, working displays and a vast range of products to suit all tastes and budgets, friendly designers will always make you feel welcome.

Olivia Hopkins, Group Showroom Manager for Turnbull said: “We have wanted to open a showroom in Lincoln for some time and are delighted to be in such an ideal location. All our displays have been designed up to real room sizes so customers can see how a new kitchen or bathroom will work for them in their own homes. One thing people love about the new showroom is our ‘Inspiration Point’ where our designers pull together colours and samples for everything from handles to flooring in order to design a bespoke look every time.”

Turnbull offer free home measures and a professional 3D design and planning service. The team are not commission based so are wholly focussed on creating a design to match a client’s budget and exceed their expectations.

“Clients can sit down with a cup of coffee in a relaxed and reassuring environment to explore products from leading UK and European manufacturers including Neff, Bosch and Siemens, Quooker boiling water taps as well as extensive choices of tiles, worktops and fixtures,” Olivia explained.

On Saturday 25th January over 100 people experienced Turnbull hospitality as they visited the new Deacon Road showroom for the first time. The opening was a massive success and Olivia said: “The feedback from both customers and industry professionals was quite overwhelming!”

One of the highlights of the event was a very informative Neff cookery demonstration, where mouth-watering dishes were created and enjoyed by visitors.

Olivia summed up by saying: “As a family company, we are immensely proud to have opened this wonderful showroom in the heart of this historic city. Our team are excited to be here, and are ready to welcome new customers and create their dream kitchens and bathrooms.”

Turnbull Kitchens & Bathrooms, Deacon Road, Lincoln LN2 4JB. Showroom open: Mon-Fri 7.30am-5pm, Sat 7.30am-12.30pm. Showrooms also in: Sleaford, Brigg, Boston and Newark. For more information on Turnbull Kitchens & Bathrooms, visit their website:

Take three brands!
Excitement is growing about Lincoln’s increasingly vibrant retail scene – following the announcement that three major fashion retailers are poised to bring their full ranges to the city.

Phase 8, Whistles and Hobbs have snapped up space in The Cornhill Quarter – which is being transformed by Lincolnshire Co-op’s £70m redevelopment scheme.

This follows news in early 2019 that TFG’s London branch, which also operates Damsel in A Dress and Studio 8, appointed Braiser Freeth as portfolio advisors to help it to achieve its ambitions for securing more than 100,000 sq ft of retail space in the UK over the next year.

Phase 8 and Hobbs will be based in the third phase of the development, in the building that will be home to The Botanist and the Everyman cinema. Both are set to open early this year.

Whistles is going in the Corn Exchange building, alongside brands such as Cosy Club, Flying Tiger Copenhagen and Moss Bros – all are already trading.

It will be the first time the three ‘newcomers’ will offer their full ranges in the city. Currently they only exist as concessions within department stores in Lincoln.

KLM Retail and Banks Long & Co represented Lincolnshire Co-op in the deals.

Lincolnshire Co-op chief executive, Ursula Lidbetter said: “The signing of these three major fashion brands for The Cornhill Quarter sets 2020 off as another great year for the development.”

Specialist clinics and outstanding eye care
Walters Opticians is your local independent family run opticians based in North Hykeham, Lincoln and Gainsborough.

They have been established nearly 22 years and take pride in offering a professional and bespoke service.

They offer many services at both practices, including:
• Private and NHS eye examinations
• Contact lens clinics with access to the best contact lenses currently available, which suit all individual lives and budgets.
• Tear clinics specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of dry eye
• Colorimetry/Visual stress tests
• A huge selection of many well-known designer brands for both ophthalmic and sunglass frames such as Gucci, Tom Ford, Jimmy Choo and Dior.

“In our Gainsborough Practice we have recently invested in a Heidelberg OCT retinal scanning machine which is used for all of our eye examinations carried out. The machine takes detailed scans of the back of the eye, we also use the machine for private extended scans for a more in-depth investigation.

“As an independent optician, we make sure that we offer the very top quality lenses on the market. We proudly offer Essilor lenses who are the world’s leading brand for varifocals. Essilor are the inventor of the Varifocal lens, with the brand name being Varilux. Due to the very latest technology we can offer a Varilux lens which is a bespoke lens made uniquely for you, with precise measurements taken on the Visioffice. We have a Visioffice in both of our bespoke practices.

“We also offer a 0% finance option allowing you to get those perfect spectacles and spread the cost evenly over the coming 12 months.”

For more information, call or visit Walters Opticians at either their North Hykeham or Gainsborough branches. Unit 5, Hykeham Green Shopping Centre, North Hykeham LN6 8NH. Tel: 01522 686200, 34-36 Market Place, Gainsborough DN21 2BY. Tel: 01427 616505.

Straying into Lincoln
An expanding independent business, well known for its great blend of coffee and live music, is investing more than £150,000 in bringing its name to Lincoln.

Banks Long & Co is leasing the city’s former Patisserie Valerie outlet at the top of the High Street to Stray’s – which is hoping to create about 12 jobs with the move.

Stray’s, which is headed by siblings Mat Short and Liz Mack, started its life in Newark in 2003, where it has grown to also have a bookshop and host live jazz and mindfulness sessions.

The business is due to open in Stamford this month (March), after taking its brand to Oakham (Rutland) last November. Its Newark, Oakham and Stamford outlets will provide work for about 35 people.

Mat is now looking forward to welcoming his first customers to Stray’s new Lincoln coffee shop, eatery and live music venue in the spring.

“We know our brand is ideally suited to Newark and we see a synergy with Lincoln, where we are confident we can build a loyal customer base in a city,” he said.

“I’ve always loved the historic part of the city and wandering around the Castle, then walking down Steep Hill and emerging into the High Street, where we are delighted to be leasing the former Patisserie Valerie premises.

“Banks Long & Co Associate, Lewis Cove is familiar with our Newark business and alerted me to the fact that the Lincoln shop was available, so this investment fits in perfectly with the timing of our continuing expansion,” he added.

For all your print and copy needs
With more than 40 years of trading, Lincoln Print & Copy Centre continues to provide the best print solutions for customers in the Lincoln area, giving the service and advice customers need to run and promote their businesses and organisations.

With experienced and friendly staff, and a modern range of equipment they can adapt to suit each customer’s requirements, with a same day service available on many items, so customers get the rapid response required. Whether you need a straightforward print, copy, or scanning service, or something more complicated involving design or print finishing, discuss it with the staff at Lincoln Print & Copy Centre and you can be sure a solution will be found. Products include business cards and business stationery, leaflets, manuals and brochures, carbonless pads, architectural drawings and posters.

In addition, an Ordnance Survey Map Data Centre provides maps for planning applications, and historic and area maps from the Ordnance Survey archive.

9 Clifton Street, Stonefield Park Industrial Estate, Lincoln LN5 8LQ, Tel: 01522 546118,,

Hear to help you
The name Specsavers may be well known for optical services but some branches are specialist Hearing Centres. In Lincoln, the Specsavers audiologists are based in Unit 4 within Morrisons on Tritton Road, where Steven Tweddle, director and audiologist, works with his team of fellow audiologist Cathy Russell and hear care assistants Jack Paulger and Hannah Aris. Their busy practice offers a range of hearing services including hearing tests and hearing aids, as well as hearing protection and wax removal. “Hearing loss can be an isolating experience,” said Steven, “so we work to reassure clients that there is a cost effective way to address their quality of hearing. The Specsavers Hearing Centre offers a high quality and personal service with the lowest prices on the high street.”

Steven is also able to offer home visits, by appointment, for clients who cannot easily travel to the Centre. “We offer a range of hearing aids which can be prescribed depending on lifestyle and degree of hearing loss. Being able to hear can restore confidence in social situations, improve day-to-day living and have health benefits in the longer term.”

As part of their cost effective offers, all Specsavers Hearing Centre Lincoln hearing instruments are 2-4-1, so the prices you see are for a pair.

The Centre is open Mon-Sat 9am to 5pm and Sun 10am to 4pm. Tel: 01522 572710 or visit:, Specsavers at 324 High Street, Lincoln holds a clinic each Monday 9am to 4.30pm. Tel: 01522 576655 to book an appointment.

Introducing One You Lincolnshire
One You Lincolnshire is a brand new integrated service for Lincolnshire residents to help them Stop Smoking, Lose Weight, Drink Less and Move More.

If you would like to stop smoking, visit their website and self-refer for FREE stop smoking support, offering NRT and guidance to help you quit for good.

One You Lincolnshire’s weight loss programmes are open to county residents with a long-term health condition and a BMI over 30.

“We know that what works for one person to lose weight doesn’t always work for the next person, so our team of health care professionals have carefully developed a range of programme options to ensure you have the best possible chance of success.”

Meanwhile, the Drink Less programme is for anyone drinking over 14 units per week and looking to reduce their alcohol intake to within the recommended levels or abstain for good. In addition to 1:1 and group sessions, One You Lincolnshire offer digital and remote support to help you along the way.

“Our team of dedicated physical activity coaches are on hand with a range of sessions designed to get you moving more and achieving the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week. In addition to our in-house programmes, we also offer our ‘Get Healthy, Get Active’ programme which provides a number of links with community based activity programmes such as pilates, aqua aerobics and walking football.”

If you would like support to Lose Weight, Drink Less or Move More talk to your Health Care Professional or GP surgery to be referred to One You Lincolnshire’s programmes.

You can check your eligibility easily online at, where you will also find case studies and information from clients about the service.

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