Gainsborough making a BID

Dining Out

Words by:
Glynis Fox
Featured in:
February 2011

Business life in Gainsborough is complemented by a range of attractions and leisure activities.
Richmond Park, which extends to four acres, offers something for the whole family to enjoy, including a children’s play area with swings and slides, football, French boules and basketball areas.

Then there are the formal gardens, which feature a show greenhouse, a woodland nature area with a tree trail, where you can see a 600-year-old oak tree, and an aviary with budgies, cockatiels and zebra finches.

Regular events and activities take place throughout the year, from concerts and art workshops to nature days and garden projects.

The park was left to the people of Gainsborough and the surrounding area and first opened its doors to the public in 1946. The Friends of Richmond Park regularly discuss its maintenance and programme of events.

Trinity Arts Centre is a multi-functional building in Trinity Street, which offers a range of entertainment for people of all ages.

This converted Gothic church, which still retains original features, includes a bar, which is open for shows and fim screenings and which also displays work by local talented artists.

The centre’s auditorium has 200 seats and a season’s offerings typically include plays, films, music, dance and stand-up comedy, as well as something for children.

Gainsborough also boasts The Sands, which is based in The Old Town Hall in Lord Street.

This venue is the place to go if you are looking for somewhere to eat and also be entertained. Its programme of events features tribute and party bands, Jazz, Motown and Rock n’ Roll acts, as well as Comedy.

Finally, if you like impressive architecture, check out Gainsborough’s famous Old Hall – a gem of a Medieval manor house, in Parnell Street, and take a closer look at All Saints Church.

This Grade 1-listed landmark, which even has its own café, has very strong links with the Church of England Primary Schools in the town.

It’s been an eventful year at Marshall’s Yard, which has seen a significant rise in visitor numbers and welcomed a host of new businesses.

The development – which is gearing up to celebrate its fourth birthday – opened as a brand new shopping and office scheme on the site of Gainsborough’s former Britannia Works factory in April 2007.

Despite the economic uncertainty felt throughout 2010, retailers at the complex have reported a growth in sales compared with previous years and the centre is attracting visitors from right across the region.

Market research shows that more shoppers from Scunthorpe, Doncaster, Lincoln and Retford are now making a beeline for this destination.

One of the biggest changes throughout 2010 has been the relaunch of the Gainsborough Farmers’ Market, which first moved to Marshall’s Yard in 2008. The Market was relaunched last March in a new location, along a central walkway at The Yard, and with fantastic new stalls and branding. (It takes place on the second and fourth Saturday of every month).

Marshall’s Yard, centre manager, Jackie Helliwell, said that since then the successful market has become a twice-monthly event and is now only the second in Lincolnshire to have achieved FARMA accreditation – guaranteeing that the produce sold is grown and produced locally.

Marshall’s Yard also holds regular events throughout the year, including Halloween celebrations, The Marshall’s Tractor Show and the Christmas Lights Switch On.

Jackie said that over the past twelve months the centre has proved to be a real magnet for new and relocating businesses.

These include beautician Bella Fiore, solicitor Sills and Betteridge and Keypoint UK – which has joined the line-up at The Pattern Store. Now, only a small number of available units remain.

Marshall’s Yard has continued to sponsor Gainsborough Trinity Football Club this year, as well as supporting the Trent Dolphins Swimming Club. A new initiative has also been launched to help local charities.

“It has been a really eventful year for us as a business and one of the achievements we are most proud of is the successful relaunch of the Farmers’ Market, which has been attracting visitors from across the region,” said Jackie.

“We are also working closely with the local community and with local stakeholders. Gainsborough is a very exciting place to work at the moment because there are so many positive things happening and we are very proud to be part of that.”

Jackie, who won national acclaim when she was named Young Achiever of the Year at the Sceptre Awards in London last Summer, added that she and her team are busy planning future events and entertainment and further developments, including a new craft market.

Gainsborough has started 2011 on a upbeat note – thanks to recent investment in the town centre and the prospect of new initiatives aimed at creating a brighter future for traders and residents.

Lots of Growth Point projects and high hopes of creating a Business Improvement District (BID) in the town promise to help make Gainsborough more attractive andincreasingly prosperous.

West Lindsey District Council Growth Point Project manager, Joanna Walker, said the first phase of a £3 million project to breathe extra vitality into the town centre has already made a difference – and hopefully more work will follow.

Other managers believe that the upgrading done so far has helped to create more of a balance between this area and the multi-million pound Marshall’s Yard complex.

At the same time, BID co-ordinator, David Hawkins, is drawing up a business plan for the proposed BID. Traders are due to vote on whether it should become a reality in April.

Miss Walker said: “Phase 1 of a project to upgrade the Market Place and its surroundings has already seen the completion of £2 million worth of work, against a £3m planned upgrade.

“The work has included repaving, new street furniture and litter bins, and has involved the Market Place, Lord Street and Silver Street.

Money for the work came from the Government’s Single Pot, via EMDA, with other funding from West Lindsey District and Lincolnshire County Council – highlighting a joint determination to make Gainsborough a better place in which to live and work.

Today more market stallholders are selling at the traditional Tuesday and Saturday town centre markets and the changes appear to have helped to bring in other businesses too.

New arrivals and relocators, who moved in while the upgrading work was underway and since it has been completed, include independent shopkeepers, such as a florist, a craft shop and a men’s outfitters. Names to note are Storm and the Home of Sandra, both in Lord Street.

Work on Phase 2 of the Town Centre Improvement Project is dependent upon West Lindsey getting further funding, but it is hoped to spend money on paving work in Market Street and Church Street over the next two years.

Excitingly, planning permission has been granted for a brand new neighbourhood of about 2,500 homes in the Foxby Lane area, close to Foxby Business Park.

“This will not just include housing, but also two new primary schools, community facilities, shops and health services. It will help to create new job opportunities.

The development is expected to be built over the next twelve-and-a-half years,” said Miss Walker.

Twelve business start-up units are also being created at The Plough, a former public house in Church Street. These should be finished by April.

Money is also being spent on improving the Lea Road Railway Station, which could also see the inclusion of valuable space for enterprises.

Finally, West Lindsey District Council is keen to find a developer for the Elswitha Quarter in the town centre – which includes the Council’s former Guildhall offices. This is seen as a prime area for a varied development which would cater for the town’s fast-growing population.

Plans to create a Business Improvement District in the town were launched last May. The proposed BID would include businesses based in 460 properties based in the town centre, along its waterfront and “gateways” including Trinity, Bridge and North Streets.

Consultations have already taken place with traders, who have shared a variety of views. Many want to see Gainsborough marketed more effectively.

Businesses say events are important to help bring in more visitors and shoppers and safety and security are also a major concern for shopkeepers.

To create a BID, the majority of businesses entitled to vote for the initiative must be in favour, by number and rateable value. Ultimately, those based in the BID area will pay a levy of two per cent of the rateable value of their premises.

BID co-ordinator David Hawkins said: “I am currently working on a business plan, but we are also going to run some pilot projects to demonstrate how the BID would help businesses.

“One will be a street ranger project, lasting two weeks, which will explore issues of safety and security, which are a high priority for many traders we surveyed.

“We are also planning a shop window dressing project, which will show how empty premises can be made to look more interesting and lift the surrounding area.”

And a half-day workshop will also allow shopkeepers and officer managers to talk about practical solutions which could be offered by the BID.

Typically BIDs may set up promotional websites, employ street wardens, look at car parking projects, signage and events strategies.

The proposed BID is expected to raise £100,000 a year through the levy paid by traders.

“The BID is a great opportunity for businesses to work together on a range of projects to benefit all sectors and it would also give traders a collective voice,” added Mr Hawkins.

BID Steering Group chairman, Peter Thurlow, said: “We need something to bring businesses in Gainsborough together, to really speak with one voice. When doing marketing, advertising and promotions, we could do it through the BID and potentially get more for our money.”

The BID area includes a large number of retailers, but also some commercial and service firms. Mr Thurlow said that since the concept was first discussed, a lot of smaller businesses have shown support for the project.

“I think the BID will improve Gainsborough’s longer-term vitality. With the town’s Growth Point Status and the revamped Market Place, people already seem more enthusiastic about coming into the town,” added Mr Thurlow.

Fast-changing Gainsborough is attracting new and expanding enterprises, such as solicitors Sills & Betteridge.

One of the county’s largest law firms, with roots going back 250 years, the business has become increasingly involved in the day-to-day life of Gainsborough people since opening an office in The Pattern Store, at the rear of Marshall’s Yard, three months ago.

Partner, Mo Hayes, said: “We are a small, but friendly team, providing a range of legal services. We are delighted to be working with the people of the town and we very much look forward to strengthening our ties with the local community and playing our part in its future growth.”

Mo’s colleagues include Hannah Green and Lucy Fountain, but they are backed by 143 staff including thirty-one partners and 112 other people, working at the firm’s six other Lincolnshire offices.

“The economic growth and development prospects in the pipeline for Gainsborough point to an exciting and challenging future and we look forward to being actively engaged in this process,” added Commercial Team partner, Shan Jaehrig.

Shan is also a member of the Gainsborough BID Steering Group.

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