Town Deal brings boost to Boston
In a bid to draw customers back to the high street and boost tourism, almost £4m is to be spent on revitalising buildings and shopfronts in the town, as Melanie Burton reports.
Heritage Lincolnshire, the county’s foremost charity dedicated to conserving Lincolnshire’s heritage from the Humber to the Wash, is celebrating securing approval for a £3.9m funding boost for Boston’s town centre, courtesy of the Boston Town Deal Board and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
‘Healing the High Street: Boston’ will build on Heritage Lincolnshire’s successful existing Townscape Heritage grant scheme (funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund) and will result in a substantial pot of grant funding being made available to local businesses and property owners in Boston town centre, including the Market Place, Strait Bargate and Wide Bargate.
The project will focus on Boston’s diverse and valuable historic environment, as well as newer and prominent buildings in the town centre.
It is also expected that this funding will be used to leverage wider investment in the town of Boston, with the aim of substantially improving the living, working and shopping environment for residents, visitors and businesses alike.
Greg Pickup, chief executive of Heritage Lincolnshire, said: “This unparalleled investment in Boston’s heritage demonstrates that Lincolnshire’s rich history can and should be at the forefront of future growth in the county.
“The Town Deal proposal for Boston recognises the need to support our struggling town centres and high streets, which are crucial to the country’s recovery from Covid and its future growth.
“This once-in-a-generation investment truly will transform the town centre and ensure that Boston’s heritage assets are fit for the future and available to all.”
Charlotte Goy, chief executive of the Lincolnshire Tourism Destination Management organisation Visit Lincoln, said: “Residents and visitors really value the rich history and heritage of Boston. It also has international appeal and is a key destination in the county’s tourism offering.
“This investment is a welcome boost, and the funding will make a real difference, stimulating more inward investment over the years to come.
“But more importantly, it will generate civic pride as business owners and residents see Heritage Lincolnshire giving the gems across Boston their TLC.”
Michelle Sacks, deputy chief executive of Boston Borough Council, added that she hoped it would boost tourism in the town and help combat the growth of online shopping.
“We have so many fantastic buildings but some are a little tired and need bringing back to life,” she said. “Making the place more attractive is what will drive people in.”
CITY STATUS BID
As part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations this year, Boston is bidding to gain city status, which it is hoped will aid the economy and the economic growth of the area.
The application has been supported by local groups and businesses, identifying the town’s recent growth in the food industry, plus the investment from the Boston Town Deal fund as key factors.
It states: ‘Boston’s application will not just catalogue its history and provide a record of its features; it will capture the spirit of its people, both past and current, to present a new future fit for its bestowal and honour of city distinction.’
It should be noted that bidding for city status is often linked to bigger regeneration and promotion programmes that will continue in the future.
Cllr Richard Austin, portfolio holder for heritage, said: “About 14 other towns are applying and the Queen will only select one. It will be a great honour if we are the one selected.”
As part of Boston Town Deal Board’s vision and town investment plan, Boston train station will also be refurbished helping to make Boston a more appealing place to visit.
The station has long been a popular gateway to the town, welcoming millions of visitors since its opening in 1848. In its heyday, the station employed more than 50 staff and offered services to Skegness and Nottingham, as well as trains that connected to Northern cities such as York and Leeds.
Boston is the only rail hub in east Lincolnshire and it serves around 200,000 passengers per year, making it a major local interchange.
In association with East Midlands Railway, the new project will deliver a new community/retail café facility by developing the redundant unit between the ticket hall and the existing restaurant unit, providing a new welcoming hub to the centre of the station building.
The refurbishment of the existing hall and ticket office will create a new open and hospitable hall and waiting space, encompassing the community feel by providing an improved space for a book share and a calmer place to meet and wait.
The exterior of the building and platforms will see some work in regards to aesthetics, with some refurbishment and painting to the main canopy and over the bridge.
Repairs to the lime render will take place to create a uniform appearance throughout. The sash windows will also be repaired and restored with glazing installed throughout. Improvements will also be made to the render at the station entrance and new lighting to both the building exterior and canopy will be added. To welcome travellers, refurbishment will also be applied to the station’s British Rail sign.
The project is designed to encourage the community to use the railway facilities regardless of whether they are travelling on the railway or not, with the local community being one of the main beneficiaries of the various improvements.
The developments also lead directly to the PE21 development of the nearby bus terminal and area, which will act as a corridor and gateway into the town, with walkways and cycling provisions being made to open up the wider investments being made into the town in general.
Deputy leader and portfolio holder for economic development at Boston Borough Council, Councillor Nigel Welton, said: “The regeneration of Boston’s railway station is part of a much larger plan that will launch Boston into the future, building on its unique heritage and making the town an exciting place to live, work, invest and visit for generations to come.”
ADAPTING TO A CHANGING ECONOMY
Despite the challenges of the past two years and the ones expected to come, Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce’s latest quarterly economic survey – part of the UK’s largest independent business survey and a leading indicator of UK GDP growth – has found that domestic conditions in terms of sales and orders are still showing strong levels despite rising inflation and ongoing cost pressures.
UK market figures have maintained since the last quarter, with sales increasing slightly from +29 to +30 and orders moving further into positive territory increasing from +11 to +25.
Overseas sales and orders, however, have weakened, which is reflected in documentation figures recorded by the Chamber International Trade team, with sales moving from -13 to -22 and orders decreasing even further from -7 to -44.
Past recruitment intentions have remained at +18 this quarter, whilst future recruitment plans have dropped from +32 to +18, though remaining positive.
Chief executive of Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce, Simon Beardsley, said: “These results show a mixed picture for Lincolnshire businesses. We saw a positive outlook from the results of Q4 2021 after navigating the pandemic and the UK’s EU exit and heading into 2022 we saw some optimism as Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in February, but this has clearly been overruled by other concerning factors, such as the terrible happenings in Ukraine.
“Without surprise Q1 results show business confidence relating to profit dropping, no doubt driven by concerns about cost and wage pressures and how businesses might absorb these increased costs.
“There is clearly a bumpy road ahead, but as a resilient county full of people passionate about where they live and work, we encourage consumers to wave that Lincolnshire flag and support local.”
Councillor Colin Davie, executive councillor for economy at Lincolnshire County Council, added: “It’s a testament to businesses in Lincolnshire that activity remains strong despite recruitment and supply challenges.
“The global effects of war and Covid-19 are leading to knock-on effects in prices and availability of raw materials and these costs are already being passed on to consumers, with further price rises now clearly on the horizon.
“An increase in domestic trade reflects many of these challenges and as consumers, a focus on spending money in our own economy, and especially our county, will be particularly beneficial.”
One of Boston’s major employers, Bakkavor, reported in advance of its full year trading results that revenue for the year was up 4.4% compared to 2020 and on a like for like basis revenue increased by 6.2% compared to 2020 and by 1.2% compared to 2019.
It said that whilst the industry-wide challenges intensified in the last quarter of 2021 and are remaining into 2022, it has seen strong sales momentum in the UK as lockdown restrictions have eased and the frequency of shopping visits has increased again.
Another initiative to attract people back into the town centre, to help increase footfall and boost the local economy has been launched by The Poacher Line Community Rail Partnership (CRP).
The new scheme, Poacher PLUS, is designed to encourage a shift from car usage and get people back onto the public network of buses and trains.
The CRP has worked closely with CallConnect, Lincolnshire County Council’s award-winning Demand Responsive bus service, on the scheme which allows travellers particularly from rural areas to travel for £1 each way, when a valid same-day rail ticket is produced.
So anyone connecting to and from the Poacher Line stations will be able to make a CallConnect bus journey for £1 each way, enabling many more people to access the railway.
Boston station is one of the main stations on the Poacher Line and is a depot for its drivers and train staff. A manned station consisting of two platforms, Boston offers step-free access for trains to and from Nottingham and via the level crossing for those travelling to Skegness.
Jo Andrews, Community Rail officer for the Poacher Line said: “It has been wonderful to be able to design this initiative with CallConnect to offer an affordable option for getting to and from our stations. It will open up the service to those who had previously thought they could not use the railway because they lived in rural or isolated areas.
“With this offer we hope to encourage people to return to our public transport network. The railway is a safe, sustainable and easy travel option and with the price of fuel ever increasing, and the climate crisis, these initiatives are more important than ever.
“We are also hoping to encourage other transport operators and businesses to join in with the incentive to offer some great deals when people Go Greener by train.”
Nicole Hilton, assistant director – communities with Lincolnshire County Council said: “As we increasingly get back to our pre-pandemic lives it’s a very good time to ensure that, by putting together linked-up initiatives like this, we can help everyone who wants to travel by public transport as much as possible.”
INVESTMENT IN SKILLS
Local communities still believe there is underinvestment in Boston as a place to support the level of inward migration and the impact on local services. Boston’s greatest challenge is low skills.
It ranks worst of all local authorities in England in terms of the skills domain within the 2019 English Indices of Deprivation. The number of people qualified to NVQ3 and above in Boston is over 20% points lower than the national average. This tracks through into wages with the area having wage levels that are £130 a week lower than the England average (ASHE).
The excellent facilities of Haven High Academy and Boston College are now addressing this skills issue. There has been significant investment in Boston College through the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (GLLEP) and the college is now ranked in the top 5 in the country, with a national reputation for innovation and high quality learning.
Further investment through the Boston Town Deal will extend the college and see the design of the Mayflower Project bringing nature inside, creating an open, airy and green space that the whole community can enjoy, encouraging learning in an informal, flexible and motivating environment.
The core driver for economic growth in Boston is food. Boston is an international food hub.
For every one job in food processing in England there are five in Boston. There are now relatively few major settlements in England that are so strongly associated with one core industry which defines them in such a positive way. (BRES 2020)
Its location and connection to both the Port of Boston and rich surrounding agricultural heartlands of the UK make it central to the UK Food Valley – an ambitious project which aspires to put Greater Lincolnshire at the heart of a global top 10 food production cluster, by pioneering sustainability through innovation.
At its launch in November 2021, it was stated: “We have an international reputation for growing and processing high-quality food, and we’re home to one of the largest concentrations of agriculture, food manufacturing, storage and distribution in Europe, with a focus on infrastructure for technology and innovation.”
The Port of Boston is a major freight and logistics facility in the Wash and handles around 200,000 tonnes of short sea shipping freight from Europe per year. This also includes steel and timber, with boats coming mainly from Europe.
WARM WELCOME FOR TOURISTS
During the summer months around 70% of Boston’s visitors are from the nearby large coastal resorts, who come to enjoy the open-air markets and the town’s independent traders. More than 50,000 visitors are welcomed into the historic St Botolph’s Church – the largest parish church in England and affectionately known as ‘The Stump’.
EXPLORE AND CELEBRATE BOSTON’S HERITAGE
With its international appeal and recognition as a key destination in the county’s tourism offering, residents and visitors alike can look forward to a number of special attractions and events taking place through the summer months in and around Boston, in recognition of the town’s unique and fascinating history.
THIS diverse and lively market town owes much of its heritage to the magnificent landmark church (known as The Stump), England’s largest parish church, which is visible from miles around and named after St Botolph, an Anglo Saxon monk who according to tradition visited the area in the 7th century.
Once a lively and influential port located on the River Witham, its river connection to Lincoln made Boston an important trading centre.
In medieval times, the town’s wealth was based on wool and by the 1700s, it supplied a third of London’s grain directly from granaries situated along the riverside.
This wealth also influenced the architecture of the town, which is reflected in its surviving Georgian buildings, including the fine St Mary’s Guildhall and stunning Market Place, which still hosts weekly markets, as well as the annual May Fair.
Today Boston, which was one of 38 towns and villages to apply for city status as part of a competition to mark this year’s Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, is a vibrant place to explore and enjoy family fun.
Here visitors can make the most of a range of quality national and independent shops and excellent eateries, with a diverse range of attractions to discover.
Having secured approval for a £3.9m funding boost, courtesy of the Boston Town Deal Board and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, a bright future beckons.
The ‘Healing the High Street’ project (funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund) will focus on transforming town centre properties through grants to repair and revitalise historic buildings and shopfronts.
The project will focus on Boston’s diverse and valuable historic environment, as well as newer and prominent buildings with the aim of substantially improving the living, working and shopping environment for residents, visitors and businesses alike.
Visitors and sightseers can also enjoy exploring the town’s heritage at their own pace with a series of fascinating attractions, including the Boston Buoys Trail, a series of six stunning art installations re-purposing vintage navigational marine buoys celebrating Boston’s rich heritage and maritime connections.
Also popular is the Etched in Time arts trail, eight permanent pieces of artwork which celebrate Boston’s heritage. Created by artists Neil Baker and Steven Hatton of Electric Egg in partnership with Transported and Boston Borough Council, the artworks feature etched brass with a black inlay and bronzed finish, and respond to the themes of Travel, Trade and Influence.
Installed at various locations around the town centre, residents and visitors are encouraged to take away their own versions through rubbings, thus reviving a once popular pastime and creating their own interpretations.
For more information visit www.visitbostonuk.com
SIT BACK AND RELAX THIS SUMMER
Now we are starting to see all the hard work we’ve done in the garden come to fruition, with colourful flowering shrubs coming into bloom and the lawn looking green and luscious, it’s time to relax and just enjoy spending time outdoors. And whether that means tucking into a tasty BBQ lunch, lounging about with a good book or just catching a few rays, you’ll need some stylish garden furniture so you can relax in comfort.
The extensive garden furniture ranges now available at Downtown Boston include contemporary modular sets so the whole family can sit around a handy coffee table or perhaps even a firepit, traditional dining sets for elegant entertaining and comfy loungers for exactly that – lounging!
Buy with confidence with easy ways to pay, and benefit from the famous Downtown expert service. Visit Downtown Superstore, Wyberton Chain Bridge, Boston PE21 7NL or shop 24/7 at oldrids.co.uk
BRINGING TASTE, QUALITY & PLEASURE TO YOUR TABLE
Dedicated to making the finest handmade Lincolnshire sausages, family-run Mountain’s Boston Sausage is a traditional butcher serving the highest quality meats.
The shop was established in 1852. In 1904 the first of the Mountain generation, Jabez Holland Mountain, joined the firm and today the business is run by the fourth generation of the Mountain family.
“With an excellent reputation throughout the county, our products are available at a variety of quality bakers, delicatessens, restaurants, public houses and hotels. Our aim is to bring taste, quality and pleasure to your table, so you too can enjoy the delicious taste of our products!
“Visit us to discover a delicious array of products on offer, from our award-winning sausages to prime cuts of the finest, locally sourced meat, hampers and an extensive gourmet range – there really is something for everyone.”
Find Mountain’s Boston Sausage at High Street, Boston; Mountains Farm Shop, East Heckington or online at bostonsausage.co.uk for nationwide delivery.
DESIGNER CAKES LOOK GOOD AND TASTE GREAT!
If you’re looking for a distinctive celebration cake to mark a special occasion such as a wedding, anniversary or significant birthday, Sharon Barnsdale-Hall offers a selection of indulgent choices.
As an experienced and passionate sugar craft specialist, Sharon works from her home studio in Sutterton and takes pride in creating bespoke designs to suit every taste and occasion.
“For weddings, I love working alongside couples, listening and incorporating elements from their theme, such as lace from the bride’s dress and integrating that into their cake,” says Sharon, who won a coveted silver award at Birmingham’s Cake International last year. “I’m exceptionally passionate about cakes and strive for excellence and perfection in everything I do. Most couples choose a type of sponge cake, such as my classic Victoria sponge, rich indulgent chocolate, white chocolate and raspberry or zesty lemon sponge cake with homemade curds, which are always firm favourites. However, I’m always open to trying something different to suit individual requests.”
For more information visit Wedding and Celebration Cakes by Sharon Barnsdale-Hall on Facebook and Instagram, or tel: 07738 061815.
JULIET INVITES YOU TO ENJOY FABULOUS FOOD!
With a passion for showcasing the best of local ingredients from all around Lincolnshire, Cordon Bleu trained chef Juliet Chadfield has fulfilled her lifelong ambition to open a neighbourhood-style restaurant and luckily for the people of Lincolnshire, has done so in Boston!
Situated in the town’s historic Wormgate, Juliet’s seasonal menu of vibrant dishes is inspired by her worldwide travels and is complemented by a carefully curated wine list and collection of house cocktails.
Diners can enjoy a selection of modern European dishes which feature Juliet’s unique take on traditional favourites, including starters such as crispy local duck egg in a truffle parmesan cream sauce and fresh spicy mussels with nduja and garlic. Mains such as new season lamb with crushed garlic and olive oil local potatoes in a heritage tomato sauce vierge really are a breath of fresh air for the area. Excellent vegetarian options are available also, such as creamy tomato orzo risotto with roast vegetables, capers and black olives.
Set within a 300-year-old listed building, Juliet’s features four intimate dining spaces and a snug bar area with a private dining room upstairs – perfect for special occasions and celebrations.
For more information visit www.julietsrestaurant.co.uk
CHOOSE TURNBULL, BOSTON FOR YOUR NEW KITCHEN AND BATHROOM
Spring is the perfect time to press ahead to create your ideal kitchen or bathroom and the Turnbull showrooms in Boston will inspire your vision for these new spaces in your home. The helpful dedicated professionals at Turnbull are ready to help with designs which will reflect your own individual taste and lifestyle within an affordable budget.
Turnbull Kitchens and Bathrooms are a well-established family-run business, whose many loyal customers remain dedicated to buying local and supporting a trusted brand which has built an unrivalled reputation for delivering on both quality and service.
Turnbull are more than just a builders’ merchant, with a friendly, experienced team of design consultants who have been designing kitchens and bathrooms for more than 40 years.
Their team offer free design and planning services, including home visits and measuring service and can help you with inspirational ideas, designs of floorplans, as well as technical advice such as improving space flow and more.
In Boston, there are two dedicated showrooms; Turnbull’s Kitchen showroom is on Hamilton Way and across the road, on Nelson Way, is their bathroom showroom which opened last September. In each showroom you will find an excellent choice of quality brands including modern German kitchens from Rotpunkt, as well as classic and contemporary styles from Sheraton and Symphony Kitchens, together with the latest kitchen appliances in working displays from NEFF and Quooker, plus luxury European bathroom brands such as Duravit and Merlyn.
Turnbull also provides free hyper-realistic 3D renders of designs to customers, all part of their excellent customer service, so you can see your vision before you buy.
Enjoy a visit to the award-winning showrooms in person: Turnbull Kitchens Boston, Hamilton Way, off Nelson Way, Boston PE21 8TT. Telephone: 01205 338555. Turnbull Bathrooms Boston, 1 Nelson Way, Boston PE21 8UA. Telephone: 01205 357400 or make an appointment with one of the design experts online: www.turnbull.co.uk/showrooms/
Photographs: Mick Fox and courtesy of Boston Borough Council and Electric Egg