New grants for local projects

Words by:
Melanie Burton
Featured in:
September 2022

Major initiatives are underway in Gainsborough, designed to restore the town’s historic heart and support a “thriving” community, as Melanie Burton reports.

West Lindsey District Council’s Townscape Heritage scheme aims to reverse the decline of the town by offering substantial grants towards the costs of renovating buildings, bringing empty properties back into use and maximising the potential for them to be used today. It is backed by the

National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Levelling Up Programme.

The first property to be awarded funding from the scheme is 27-29 Lord Street which is currently empty and had solely residential use until 1910, when shopfronts were installed on the ground floor.

Property owner, Andy Hurley, has already invested in the town at 25 Lord Street, which he has successfully transformed and now houses three independent local businesses, all of which draw new visitors to Gainsborough.

Mr Hurley, who purchased the block of properties prior to Covid-19, said: “Our intention is to renovate the derelict properties and give them a new purpose so that they can contribute to the area.

“With the help now available, it means we are able to accelerate the work at the neighbouring property, 27-29 Lord Street, and also complete it to an excellent standard. This will improve the street scene and in turn help neighbouring businesses, as the properties have been derelict for many years and have a negative impact on the town centre.”

The substantial investment in historic buildings and associated community engagement activities seeks to improve the historic value and appearance of properties within targeted parts of the Town Centre Conservation Area.

WLDC’s chair of the Leisure, Culture, Events & Tourism Group, Councillor Paul Howitt-Cowan, welcomed the news of the first grant allocations. He said: “Restoring the historic heart of Gainsborough is part of the council’s wider Invest Gainsborough vision to increase footfall to the area, build a sense of place and restore buildings back to their attractive historic look.

“It also encourages local communities to find out more about the town’s heritage.”

The scheme is part of the wider ‘Thriving Gainsborough 2024’ project which includes the building of the town’s first multiplex cinema, retail units and a restaurant in the Market Place.

Leader of the council, Councillor Owen Bierley said work on the eagerly anticipated project will start very soon.

“This is huge step forward for our plans to build a ‘Thriving Gainsborough 2024’ and ensure the town reaches its full potential.

“In doing so this will have an economic impact on the wider district as we attract more people to the area.

“It has been a long process, but our team has been working very hard behind the scenes to get where we are.”

Other regeneration projects include redesigning the use and streetscape of the Market Place, creating a green public realm – including a new Pocket Park along the riverside and improvements to the existing park, refurbishment of the bus station and extending the ‘live above the shop’ programme to utilise the upper floors of buildings.

Demolition of the former Lindsey Centre is expected to start later on in the year and is anticipated to take approximately 12 weeks.

West Lindsey District Council’s Director of Planning and Regeneration, Sally Grindrod Smith, said: “Our Invest Gainsborough Initiative has been making huge strides to improve the town over the years and we have had many successes. However, we recognised that we needed to do more to support our town centre and our high streets in order to revitalise the local economy.

“The former Lindsey Centre is an ideal location for the cinema and commercial units as it has great connectivity across the town and will reinvigorate the Market Place.

“We want to ensure our Market Place is the centrepiece of the town with spaces and activities for people to meet family and friends, shop at our twice weekly markets and dine out in the town centre.”

The Lindsey Centre was previously Oldrids Department Store and was owned by Lincolnshire Co-op.

Kevin Kendall, Lincolnshire Co-op’s head of property, said: “We’ve been working with WLDC on this scheme for several years and we’re pleased to see it take another step forward. It will bring that variety to the Market Place and help revitalise the area.”

As well as the ‘Thriving Gainsborough 2024’ project, which will establish the physical, economic, social and environmental conditions required to address economic decline and the deprivation experienced across several wards, a new Visitor Economy Strategy and Action Plan has also been launched to drive West Lindsey forward as a visitor destination.

Councillor Owen Bierley, who is also chair of the Prosperous Communities Committee as well as council leader, said: “We recognise that visitors have the potential to provide a significant boost to the local economy, diversifying the range of businesses available to residents and providing much-needed jobs.

“However, it needs to be done in a ‘sustainable manner’ in order to contribute to the quality of life, economy, employment and local community development, to create an authentic and responsible product.

“This strategy and action plan is a great opportunity for the council to focus on all the amazing things the district has to offer. This includes a broad heritage offer, a range of attractions and activities as well as a strong food, hospitality and retail sector.

“The tourism sector will strive to balance in a sustainable way any growth opportunities with the continued enjoyment of the district’s rural, quiet spaciousness that is at the heart of our area’s appeal.

“Working with key stakeholders, we want to attract more visitors and encourage people who are already visiting to stay longer, explore further and spend more during their stay.”

Figures show that visitors to the district have continually grown year on year and the aim is to build on this with a place-based marketing approach.

WLDC’s Economic Growth Team Leader, Wendy Osgodby, explained the visitor economy makes an important contribution to the area’s overall economic growth.

“We recognise the potential for visitors to develop a strong affinity with a place, forging a place-based self-identity which can be instrumental in their choosing of a location to live and to raise a family,” she said.

“This supports the council’s core objective of housing-led economic growth, which will be achieved by expanding the amount of housing and creating a place that is attractive to new residents and can retain old residents alike. We want all our visitors to receive a genuine welcome and enjoy outstanding experiences of our countryside and heritage.”

West Lindsey District Council has submitted its Investment Plan to the Government, which sets out how it will spend its allocation of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

A total of £2.7 million has been set aside but in order to access the fund, along with other councils nationally, it has to identify activities that will be right for the district and get Government approval.

Twelve interventions have been selected by the council, which will focus on three key areas: communities and place; supporting local businesses; and people and skills.

Councillor Bierley said: “Our Investment Plan is about connecting people, building pride in our communities and place, supporting businesses and boosting the skills and life chances of individuals throughout our district.”

The Shared Prosperity Fund is the UK Government’s replacement for the EU funding following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Director of Planning, Regeneration and Communities, Sally Grindrod-Smith said: “If we want to create a strong, stable, diverse and self-sustainable business environment then we need to support our local businesses.

“Our Investment Plan looks at developing a flagship West Lindsey Business Support Programme to tailor advice and guidance to local village and retail centres along with a new grant scheme for business led sustainability improvements to increase employment opportunities.”

The fund will also look to support and expand the delivery of the West Lindsey markets action plan which focuses on increasing the number of people visiting and spending money, creating more sustainable local markets and businesses.

The Government is expected to make the first payments to councils in October 2022 after reviewing the plans.

Marshall’s Yard is Gainsborough’s main shopping centre with more than 30 stores, an Italian restaurant, coffee shops and a landscaped plaza.

It never rests on its laurels and there have been anniversary celebrations, new businesses introduced and existing ones expanding.

Browns independent boutique department store marked its 10th anniversary recently while Paul Fox Estate Agents and popular homeware store The Range both celebrated their first successful year of trading on site.

Browns first opened its doors following a £600,000 shop fit investment and since then, it has continued to secure its position as a strong retail anchor for Gainsborough by constantly updating and introducing new luxury, designer brands never represented before in the town.

The store has created and sustained 40 jobs in the town and has been headed up by the same store manager since its opening, Wendy Stephenson.

Jodie Pacey, Centre Manager for Marshall’s Yard, said: “The store is one of the main flagship stores for the yard and indeed the town, offering a great range of products with some top brands.”

High Style Bathrooms opened a new showroom within the Pattern Store units behind Marshall’s Yard just a few weeks ago showcasing all things bathrooms.

And with weddings now back on the social calendar following the pandemic, The Florist by Blush has been overwhelmed with bridal bookings this season leading them to train an extra member of their team as a fully qualified florist.

If you are looking for the assurance of a team of experienced and knowledgeable lettings professionals in close proximity to manage your property, whether you are a landlord or a tenant, look no further than Martin & Co, Gainsborough.

The company has been based in the town since 1996 and its current location at Marshall’s Yard is right in the heart of Gainsborough with easy access to parking. Owner Angela Longstaff has many years’ experience in the property sector and with her strong team of staff manages more than 1,000 properties across Gainsborough, Scunthorpe and Brigg.

“We have plenty of insight into these local areas and offer a tailor-made service to our landlords,” said Angela. “Our dedicated lettings team conduct research, whether you are a first time investor or multi-property landlord, and we are here to support you with a fully managed service. Our detailed inspections mean properties are cared for from the initial occupation and throughout the letting period.”

The Gainsborough branch of Martin & Co has become the largest single office within the national sales and letting agency thanks to a series of acquisitions over recent years. This strategy of adding fairly small portfolios has enabled the business to grow the team at a similar pace, with always strong support for landlords and tenants in place.

“We couldn’t run this business and we wouldn’t have enjoyed the success we have without our team’s amazing work behind the scenes,” said Angela. “They work incredibly hard to ensure we are on top of what is a large portfolio.”

Ian Wilson, chief executive of The Property Franchise Group added: “Angela epitomises the best of franchisee spirit. She is a true entrepreneur who started the business before we came along, but were happy to join Martin & Co for access to our brand, systems and processes.

“We preach the advantages of both organic and acquisition growth and Angela and her team walk the walk.”

For more information about the services Martin & Co, Gainsborough can offer landlords contact:
Martin & Co Gainsborough, Lettings and Estate Agents, Marshall’s Yard, The Engine House, Beaumont Street, Gainsborough DN21 2NA
Tel: 01427 611833

Walter’s Opticians is a family run business which opened its doors in the heart of Gainsborough 24 years ago, followed by their North Hykeham, Lincoln practice a few years later.

“The last year or two has been tough for all but we are proud to say we have managed to still provide excellent eye care throughout these difficult times, taking extra precautions to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all our patients as this is our absolute priority.

“Operating a locked door policy and appointment basis only ensures we 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 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 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. Varilux are bespoke lenses made uniquely for you, with precise measurements taken on the Visioffice, which is availble to use in our practices.”

34-36 Market Place, Gainsborough DN21 2BY. Tel: 01427 616505.

Opened in March 2022, Wabi-Sabi is a treasure trove of antiques, collectables and much more, attracting interest and support from locals and buyers far and wide.

Owners Carol and Paul Crow, who have both worked in the antiques trade for many years, share a passion for buying and selling an eclectic collection of bygones, which is reflected in their ever changing stock.

Here you will find collectables such as Art Deco photo frames, mirrors and ceramics, as well 20th century clocks, plus militaria, retro and vintage jewellery, brassware, lighting, treen items and ceramics.

There are also plenty of antique books, original art and prints on display, as well as a collection of vinyl records by popular pre-1990s artists, and even pre-loved vintage record players and turntables by classic names such as Ferguson and Dynatron.

The couple chose to name their Victorian shop on Trinity Street having been influenced by the Japanese concept of ‘wabi-sabi’ – the appreciation of beauty that is ‘imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete’, which sums up their business perfectly.

“If you’re looking for something a bit special or unusual, please come into our Aladdin’s Cave – you never know what you might find!”

Wabi-Sabi is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 9am to 4pm.

For more information, find Wabi-Sabi on Facebook, or tel: 01427 370511.

Photographs: Mick Fox

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