Green light for Gainsborough

Words by:
Melanie Burton
Featured in:
September 2021

Special events have been celebrating the town’s heritage and plans are in place to ensure it remains a community for all ages, as Melanie Burton finds.

The easing of Covid restrictions has meant brisk business for retailers with plenty of people flocking to enjoy what is on offer from the hospitality sector. It couldn’t come soon enough, as towns like Gainsborough rely on visitors to its shops and historic attractions to boost the local economy.

The lifting of restrictions has also meant that the town has finally been able to mark a very special milestone – the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower story and the town’s links with the Pilgrims.

Having been postponed last year as a result of the pandemic, the event – ‘Flight of the Separatists’ – marked 400 years of the story of the Pilgrims’ escape from England in search of religious freedom via Gainsborough.

The event was the first to be held in the town’s main attraction, Gainsborough Old Hall, since it was able to reopen after lockdown and included live performances from the Rhubarb Theatre group, as well as activities such as felt hat making, pottery making and rope making.

The 15th-century hall on Parnell Street, now owned by English Heritage but previously operated by Lincolnshire County Council, has undergone an extensive £300,000 refurbishment ready for its reintroduction to visitors.

A historical gem, Gainsborough Old Hall has one of the most impressive medieval kitchens in England, a noble great hall with ornate wooden ceiling and an imposing lodgings tower.

Leader of West Lindsey District Council, Councillor Owen Bierley, attended the event and said: “It was interesting to see the changes English Heritage has made and its interpretation of the Old Hall and its history was amazing.

“It is one of the finest medieval homes in the country and what can be seen today fully reflects how well it has been loved, cared for and adapted by so many generations of owners.

“As such it is of interest to people of all ages, indeed to the whole family.”

Another popular town venue finally able to open for the first time since the pandemic started is the Trinity Arts Centre.

A new brochure of events for Autumn 2021 has been circulated, the first following the centre’s 16-month closure due to Covid-19 restrictions.

And there is something for everybody in the reopening season, from live music and stand-up comedy to drama and musical theatre.

Alongside the live shows, it also has a packed community hire programme offering regular weekly classes in cheerleading, dance, drama, singing and adult education.

The team at the centre have used the time during lockdown to give the historic building some tender loving care, including lots of improvements for customer safety and comfort.

Some of the improvements the venue now boasts include a new box office system, a front of house sound system, digital signage, bespoke bar with an upgraded EPOS system and digital presentation equipment for meetings.

For customers’ peace of mind, the centre is now a certified Covid Secure theatre and it has taken all the necessary steps to keep patrons safe. The venue boasts a ventilation system which ensures customers are breathing the freshest air at all times.

West Lindsey commercial development manager Cara Markham said: “We have used the downtime during lockdown to bring the Arts Centre up to date and offer our customers a venue that is well-equipped, modern and safe for everyone to use.”

Work can now also begin on ambitious plans to build 138 new homes in Gainsborough which have now received a final sign-off from the government.

Acis is developing the new homes in partnership with West Lindsey District Council and Homes England as part of its commitment to the regeneration of the town.

The £16 million scheme will regenerate the land off Bowling Green Road after planning permission was granted last year and will be built by developers Vistry Partnerships.

Now thanks to the approval of £5.2 million funding from Homes England, the regeneration work can begin.

Close to the popular Mercer Wood, the site will offer residents an innovative mix of housing to either buy or rent including homes for outright sale, affordable rent, shared ownership and much-needed, fully accessible, specialist housing for older people.

It will create a new type of community for Gainsborough, with inter-generational living and shared services at its heart.

Mark Jones, director of property services at Acis Group, said: “This exciting development will create a balanced community of all ages in Gainsborough, a safe attractive place where people will want to live and work which meets the needs of the local people and the area.

“The regeneration will transform the area and create a sustainable, intergenerational community. It will be a place we can be proud of in the town.

“And with a growing elderly population in Lincolnshire, this project will help provide quality, secure and accessible homes for the future, enabling people to live independently for longer.”

The development, which has also received funding worth £2.1 million from the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (GLLEP), will include 60 fully accessible apartments with energy efficient, low carbon heating, designed specifically for older people, and will be a first of its kind for Acis and Gainsborough.

The apartments will also have two communal air source heat pumps installed to provide heating and hot water to the block – cutting carbon emissions by 57%.

Councillor Bierley said: “It is fantastic news that work can start on this much needed housing project.

“A few years ago, we launched our Gainsborough prospectus and £18 million of public sector investment to underpin our heritage-led regeneration and housing led economic growth.

“Gainsborough became a Housing Zone and through our partnership working we have been able to secure additional funding to bring on projects of this kind.

“As a member of the Council’s Environment, Sustainability and Climate Change Working Group, we have developed a strategy to become net zero carbon by 2050 and am particularly pleased to see the addition of the air source heat pumps that will be installed in the block and will cut carbon emissions by 57 per cent.”

The work forms a major part of our regeneration efforts in Gainsborough which includes new homes on the regenerated site at North Parade and the opening up of the Riverside Walk pathway, connecting Gainsborough to Morton for the first time.

Pat Doody, chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The economic impact of our strategic investment at Corringham Road and Bowling Green Road is evident.

“By directly supporting the regeneration of Gainsborough we are investing in the future success and growth of the town, enabling the delivery of much needed new homes and communities.”

With 60 fully accessible apartments on the site, this development is set to revolutionise housing in the local area, and provide quality inter-generational living with services for everyone in the community to benefit from.

There are also exciting plans to create a ‘Thriving Gainsborough 2024’ which have been submitted by West Lindsey District Council to the government for a share of the Levelling Up Fund.

If successful, it is hoped that ‘Thriving Gainsborough 2024’ will have a ‘domino effect’ improving prosperity not only within the town but across the district.

Plans include improving Whittons Gardens, a new park at the Baltic Mill, new cinema, refurbished bus station, an extension to the town’s heritage led regeneration, new homes in the town centre above shops, and an improved Market Place as the centrepiece of town where people can enjoy outdoor dining, visit the town’s traditional twice weekly street market and meet with friends and family.

Councillor Bierley said: “We believe it is essential to the success and growth of the district to have a strong, thriving and prosperous town of Gainsborough.

“Local communities across West Lindsey will have access to improved leisure and cultural facilities, employment and training opportunities and a refurbished public transport hub at the bus station.

“Visitors to the town will be able to easily find their way through new public areas and green spaces between attractions, meaning that visitors to the district will be able to extend their stays and take advantage of all that West Lindsey has to offer.”

The Council is asking for just over £10 million from the fund, the remaining funding needed will be brought in from the Council, external grants and private investors.

If successful this fund will make sure that the proposals not only act as a further catalyst for the regeneration of Gainsborough’s town centre but will also impact on the wider district.

Sir Edward Leigh, MP for Gainsborough, has been working closely with the Council over the last 10 weeks on the bid to make sure it aligns with regional recovery priorities and delivers against the Government’s national strategic priorities.

He has also written a letter of support to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP.

Sir Edward said: “Everyone across the community is fully supportive of this project which will have a great impact on Gainsborough.

“We have a strong and well-thought-out plan which will not be possible without the Levelling Up Fund, and having missed out on recent funding rounds the town really deserves to get it this time.”

A project to install CCTV in Gainsborough which allows police to “search” footage, is underway after a successful bid for government funding.

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Marc Jones, led the bid for £250,000 to spend on upgrading and installing CCTV in the town.

The bid, in collaboration with Lincolnshire Police and West Lindsey District Council, was one of the projects chosen to receive funding from the government’s Safer Streets Fund last year.

The project includes linking the cameras to a server which will allow officers to search recorded footage using search terms such as gender, age group or even clothing description. The system will also be able to search for vehicles by number plate, manufacturer or colour.

Cameras have been upgraded at 18 different locations, which will include livestreaming capability and Artificial Intelligence features. In addition new columns will be installed at 15 new locations to house 54 new cameras.

The project also includes the appointment of a Safer Streets Community Development Project Officer who will partner with West Lindsey Voluntary Centre Services to help develop civic pride and grassroots crime prevention.

PCC Marc Jones said: “It is another strong example of how Lincolnshire is deploying cutting-edge technology to fight crime and protect residents and businesses from harm.”

Deputy Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police, Jason Harwin, said: “We’re always looking at new and innovative ways to modernise our practices and improve methods by which we can make Lincolnshire the safest place to live, work and visit.

“This new project will potentially save our staff hundreds of valuable hours, meaning we can instead put them in the places where our communities most need us, and that’s incredibly welcome.”

Barry Rooks, who is the Safer Streets Community Development Project Officer at Voluntary Centre Services said: “Over the past five months I have been meeting with those living and working in the south west ward to gain a picture of its strengths and challenges.

“There is much to do but we have now gathered a great team of local agencies and residents to begin looking at how we can make a difference to the lives of the people living in the ward.”

Gainsborough residents and visitors will soon be able to enjoy an uninterrupted riverside walk, stretching from the village of Morton right the way to the historic Trent Bridge.

Work to acquire the land which will enable the extension of the walk was completed, and the expectation is that the project will be finished this month (September).

The project is being delivered by local housing association Acis Group following a successful planning application in late summer of last year, with the specific work on the land being undertaken by the construction company, Vistry.

Director of property services for Acis Group Mark Jones said: “This is enhancing our ambitious plans for regeneration in the town. We are proud to call Gainsborough our home and it’s great to be able to link the town together with this extended walkway for all to use.”

NHS guidance is clear that walking is one of the most simple, free and easy ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier.

Connecting the Riverside Walk makes walking around the town an even more attractive proposition.

In the most recent State of the District report (2020), it was shown that obesity levels have risen in West Lindsey by 0.5% to 68.5% of adults, significantly higher than the national and regional averages.

WLDC assistant director of planning and regeneration, Sally Grindrod-Smith said: “Improving pedestrian and cycling connectivity along the riverside and to other parts of Gainsborough is part of a long-term vision for a green and accessible town.”

Things are definitely looking up in Gainsborough in terms of the business sector with the announcement of a new business park being developed in the area and another top-named store coming to town.

Established commercial property developer Stirlin was given the green light for the first phase of units to be developed on a 1.3-acre new business park named Willoughton Place conveniently located on Foxby Lane Business Park in Gainsborough’s prime commercial district, with easy access to the A1, M180 and A15 road networks.

The overall development provides up to 25,000 sq ft of employment space, which will include hybrid office and warehouse units, light industrial units and offices.

And Gainsborough’s Marshall’s Yard has welcomed top store The Range to its list of occupants which already include shops and restaurants such as FatFace, Prezzo, Next and more.

The new store which opened in July saw 40 job openings with part-time and full-time roles available and provides a selection of some of the British retailer’s most popular products, from home styling accessories and furnishings to cleaning must-haves and DIY essentials.

We love our homes and all the memories they hold. From new furnishings to full-on refurbishments and renovations, individual homeowners spend just over £3,000 on average in any 12-month period.
And when people spend, they want value for money. Making sure any improvements go towards future-proofing homes is a sure-fire way to protect any investment. Here are three ways to future-proof your home.

Make it adaptable
Slips, trips and falls in our own homes are estimated to cost the NHS more than £2.3 billion a year.
To remain independent and living in the home you love, think about adapting it now – with adaptations that don’t look anything out of the ordinary.

For example, a grabrail outside your front door could double up as a plant holder.

Make it green
No, not the colour, unless that’s your thing. Here are a few energy efficient solutions to save you money: heat your home with underfloor heating, own A+++ rated appliances where possible and install double-paned windows.

Make it accessible
Avoid falling on steps, stairs and slippy decking with the elegant addition of a ramp or stairlift. But before then, think about the rooms which you use the most, whether that means installing an adjustable kitchen or replacing your bath with a walk-in wet room. And don’t forget to make things reachable – a height between 45cm-1.2m from the floor is best.

Acis can help you to future-proof your home. Call 0800 049 5397 or email for more information on how they can support you and your family.

REALISE YOUR RACING DREAMS AT BLYTON PARKSituated on Old Blyton Airfield in Kirton Road, Gainsborough, Blyton Park has been a popular venue for motorsport since 1954 and today hosts a multitude of two and four-wheel disciplines on its unique circuit.

Designed with flexibility in mind, the circuit can be reconfigured in a variety of different ways depending on track requirements, with the additional benefit of open space run-off areas allowing drivers to avoid damage to anything running off track.

The current facility, which is an ideal venue for shows, product launches, media testing and club events, with hospitality areas that can be adapted specifically for different needs, was built 14 years ago and taken over by the Ginetta car brand in 2017.

“We are a test and development facility that offers use of the track to teams and manufacturers to test their cars and motorbikes,” explains Alan Mugglestone, who took over from Blyton Park’s creator and original owner Richard Usher in November 2019. “We also hire out the circuit and facilities to private car clubs and organisations to run track and experience days.”

Popular with both motorsport fans and professionals, Blyton Park prides itself on being “all inclusive” – from drivers having their first track experience to major motor manufacturers developing supercars and top race teams testing multi-million pound race cars.

“We also have race car drivers aged as young as 12, who come with teams and instructors,” says Alan Mugglestone.

“In terms of booking, we only run race car test days for individuals to book with us direct, with all other circuit activity done either through car clubs and organisations wanting to run a day for their club, or one of the track day organisers that book the place as a whole and then sell spaces to the end users.”

Other than exclusive hire, race car test days and track days for cars and motorbikes, Blyton Park, which offers great facilities including a heated club house and friendly professional staff, also runs MSUK sanctioned sprint competitions three times a year and holds rallycross race events three times a year.

“We also have a separate grass track race venue that runs events throughout the year, add to that our outdoor corporate kart track and you can see we have a very active and popular schedule.

“We add to the local community businesses’ income with thousands of people visiting us that need to stay and eat locally and we are looking at ways of helping the local community through charity events next year.”

Whether you want to find the limits of your own vehicle, drive a supercar, vintage car or test a competition car, the track, runways and facilities at Blyton Park are at your disposal and can be enjoyed throughout the year.

For more information visit

There is always plenty to celebrate at Grosvenor House, East Stockwith. Last month it was the Olympic Games and a Cheese and Wine afternoon while this month there is a ’70s themed day as well as a Spa Day. Recently the renovation of one of the rooms was completed to create a luxury double suite. This light and airy space is decorated in relaxing greens and greys and is ideal as a hub for families to meet and share all the facilities and events Grosvenor House has to offer. It has its own kitchenette, wet room, seating area and walk-in wardrobe.

Families are sure to enjoy a first class experience using these facilities so if you would like to enquire about this room or go along to see it in person, contact 01427 616950 or email:

Walters Opticians is a family run business which opened its doors in the heart of Gainsborough 23 years ago, and then another practice in North Hykeham a few years later.

The last year or so has been tough for all but the practice is proud that it has managed to still provide excellent eye care throughout these difficult times, taking extra precautions to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all patients as an absolute priority. Operating a locked door policy and appointment basis only ensures the practice can have the time allocated to thoroughly sanitise after every patient.

Keeping up with regular eye exams is extremely important and Walters offers many services at both of its 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 invested in a Heidelberg OCT retinal scanning machine which is used during all our eye examinations. 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, the world 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.”

If you require any further information, please don’t hesitate to telephone the practice.

34-36 Market Place, Gainsborough DN21 2BY. Tel: 01427 616505
Unit 5, Hykeham Green Shopping Centre, North Hykeham LN6 8NH. Tel: 01522 686200

Local residents of all ages in Gainsborough have been involved in coming up with ideas and drawings for telecoms boxes around the town.

LEAP, the housing and support service for vulnerable people which is based in the town, organised the project with funding from the Stop Loan Sharks Team. The message of the painted boxes aims to prevent residents from falling prey to loan sharks and the importance of seeking support and reporting loan sharks to the Stop Loan Sharks Team.
West Lindsey District Council provided further funding and a team of more than 40 volunteers helped to make the designs come to life on 10 boxes around the town.

LEAP have made a walking map with a fun quiz for people who want to follow the trail at:

Photographs: Mick Fox

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