Boston looks forward to change
Thanks to £20 million in government funding, Boston is all set to go for growth, as Melanie Burton reports.
As 2023 draws to an end, places like the historic market town of Boston can reflect on a year of change and look ahead to a period of investment and regeneration.
It is to benefit from £20 million in funding as part of the Prime Minister’s new ‘Long-Term Plan for Towns’. The endowment-style fund will go towards regenerating the town, growing the economy and tackling anti-social behaviour.
The town will also be able to use regeneration powers to unlock more private sector investment by auctioning empty high street shops, reforming licensing rules on shops and restaurants, and supporting more housing in town centres.
The government says this funding marks a change in approach that will put an end to people feeling their town is ignored by Westminster and empower communities to take control of their future.
Announcing the funding, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, said: “Towns are the place most of us call home and where most of us go to work. But politicians have always taken towns for granted and focused on cities.
The result is the half-empty high streets, run-down shopping centres and anti-social behaviour that undermine many towns’ prosperity and hold back people’s opportunity – and without a new approach, these problems will only get worse.
“Our Long-Term Plan for Towns puts funding in the hands of local people themselves to invest in line with their priorities, over the long-term. That is how we level up.”
Adding to the Town Deal funding of £21.9m which is currently delivering projects throughout the town, the additional £20m will enable the Town Deal, in partnership with Boston Borough Council as the accountable body, to continue its role of delivering real benefits to the town based on the priorities of local people.
The funding will be focused on the issues that matter most to local people, including high streets, heritage and regeneration, and public safety and security.
It also comes on top of the Levelling Up funding of £14.8m that was awarded to Boston Borough Council to help kickstart the regeneration of the Rosegarth Square development.
Chair of Boston Town Deal Board, Neil Kempster, said: “We have seen the difference that Towns Fund, Levelling Up, and UKSPF are making in the town, bringing transformational and long-term improvements.
“The Long-Term Plan for Towns represents a significant opportunity that will build on and align with what is already being delivered to enhance Boston’s offer.”
INVESTMENT FOR TOWN
The multi-million pound investment in the town has progressed well with significant improvements now being seen on the ground and more still to come.
They include the transformation of Blenkin Memorial Hall and St Botolph’s Library and a refurbishment project which will ensure the Stump’s historic collection of books can be retained in the town.
Other projects delivered through the Boston Town Deal are:
• The Mayflower, a new inspirational learning, business and community space which was granted planning consent in February 2023.
• Boston Leisure Project, which will see the redevelopment, refurbishment, and two-storey extension to the Geoff Moulder Leisure Complex carried out by Boston Borough Council.
• The Centre for Food and Fresh Produce Logistics, which is supporting businesses to grow and thrive in Boston, with local businesses The Greenhouse and London Road Bakery recent beneficiaries of the programme.
• Boston Railway Station, with transformational improvements including a new community café and start-up offices set to begin in November 2023.
• Healing the High Street, a programme of town centre regeneration to maximise Boston’s heritage and which includes the work to enhance Dolphin Lane.
Matt Warman, MP for Boston and Skegness, commented: “The Government’s investment in Boston is about two key things: making sure people share the pride we all know the area should inspire, and making sure people have the skills to start businesses, grow the economy and stay local.”
Leader of Boston Borough Council, Anne Dorrian, said: “The refurbishment of the Blenkin Memorial Hall was the first completed project in a series of local initiatives being delivered through the Town Deal, and it is refreshing that our town is actually thought of very highly by those in government who monitor progress across the country.”
The £123,500 project to improve Boston’s historic Dolphin Lane has now been completed after five months of works. The scheme, which began in May, is said to create a “more welcoming” and “accessible” area – in the hopes of increasing footfall.
Coun Richard Davies, executive member for highways at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “Since starting the project this spring, the team has spent more than 9,400 hours on the project – including removing 480 square metres of current paving and laying roughly 3,500 new Yorkstone setts.
“While on-site, we also repaired and replaced the lane’s bollards and installed a new bin, bench and four cycle stands. Now that the works are finished, the lane is far more welcoming. This means a more attractive retail environment that will hopefully lead to higher footfall for the businesses here.”
Councillor Dorrian said: “The results look just wonderful, not least because we have been able to use materials that are in keeping with the heritage of the Market Place and its surrounding areas.”
Neil Kempster added: “It is great to see that the improvements to Dolphin Lane are now complete. These works significantly enhance the appearance of the lane, and are in keeping with the heritage of the local area to create a more consistent feel between Dolphin Lane and the Market Place.
“Crucially, the improvements have also made the lane more accessible, which will make it easier for
CEO of Heritage Lincolnshire, Tracy Stringfellow said: “Improvements for Boston businesses, and the people of Boston, are what our grant programme is all about.”
The rejuvenation project was funded by a combination of £123,500 from the Boston Town Deal and National Lottery Heritage Fund and the rest via Lincolnshire County Council.
HISTORY AND HERITAGE
Boston is steeped in heritage and its position on the edge of the North Sea and its river connection with the city of Lincoln allowed it to develop as an important trading centre.
In the early medieval period, only London was richer and more important than Boston as a port. During the time when wool was England’s main export, the town was sending three million fleeces a year abroad, making a significant profit. But as the value of wool declined, the town changed.
By the 1700s, the agricultural revolution provided another economic boost. During this time, Boston supplied one-third of London’s grain directly from granaries situated along the riverside. Once again, this wealth influenced the architecture of the town and many fine Georgian buildings remain.
A traditional market town, Boston’s retail offer today combines independent boutiques that line the medieval lanes with a more modern retail offer where you will find many favourite English high street brands.
Boston also played a key role in the Mayflower story, being the place where the leading religious Separatists first came up with the idea of sailing to America. Regarded as dangerous renegades who rejected fundamental principles of the state and the established Church of England, they worshipped in secret during the 17th century to avoid arrest and persecution.
After their first attempt to leave Boston was thwarted by the authorities in 1607, the group was imprisoned in the Guildhall and subsequently freed, before making a second, successful attempt at fleeing to Holland – this time from the coastal town of Immingham.
When the Pilgrims successfully reached America in 1620 aboard the Mayflower, they founded what would
Another thing Boston is renowned for is The Boston Stump, one of England’s largest parish churches. It has always been a landmark to both seafarers and people travelling across the flat fenland that surrounds the town, as on a fine day views from the Stump’s 83m high tower reach far over The Wash and in the opposite direction, Lincoln Cathedral.
LEISURE PLANS AND ACTIVITIES
Boston is also well known for its abundance of parks, green spaces and nature reserves.
With nine country parks all within five miles of the town and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy along Lincolnshire’s award-winning coastline, visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to spots to breathe in the fresh air and enjoy a break in nature.
Plans are progressing on the refurbishment of Boston’s Geoff Moulder Leisure Complex. The plans form part of the £21.9m of funding received from the Department of Levelling Up Housing and Communities Towns Funding programme, which looks to provide additional facilities for the town, utilising the public and training pools, under one roof. It will significantly enhance the appearance and functionality of the leisure centre; with a focus on the provision of new and improved facilities including a new entrance; gym facilities; and a new changing village suitable for all users.
Access to the centre will be remodelled and there will be a shared pick-up/drop-off and coach facility, along with a new high-quality public plaza to bring together the two schemes, providing an attractive and functional new place for people to enjoy.
A design statement submitted by the developers said the vision was for the site to “promote a contemporary aesthetic, forming a high-quality development which also enhances the appearance of the overall site.
“The considered scale and form of the extension respects the existing neighbouring homes, and the proposed new development for Boston College.
“The proposals will reflect Boston Council’s ambition to promote leisure activity in a modern and sustainable setting with the development playing a key role in the infrastructure of future growth.”
Deputy chief executive for communities at Boston Borough Council, John Leach, said: “This decision is a very important step on the road to new improved leisure facilities for the borough.
“This redevelopment and extension will provide local residents, and the wider area, with the facilities they want and rightly deserve.”
Mr Leach added that a main contractor will be engaged to undertake the works and future operating models considered. It is hoped the scheme will be delivered by spring 2025.
The Boston Town Deal Board, said: “These significant improvement works are set to create new and enhanced leisure facilities for Boston that will play a crucial role in supporting local people’s health and wellbeing.
“We can also look forward to the complex linking with the exciting new Mayflower building through a proposed new plaza.
“This will create an enhanced public realm that will connect these important buildings, bringing together leisure and education facilities in the town, all made possible by the significant Town Deal investment into these projects.”
Tourism in Boston is giving a major boost to the local economy according to a new report by Global Tourism Solutions, which has highlighted the record-breaking benefits of tourism in the town, with more than £95m of economic impact in 2022 alone.
The findings showed the £95.13 million of investment from tourists to be the highest since the data was first recorded in 2011, up from £70.96 million in 2021.
In terms of visitors, the report found that 1.3m people visited Boston during 2022, up from 1.09m the previous year, with 210,000 staying in the town and more than a million visiting for the day.
Shopping and enjoying the local hospitality were the two most popular activities, with almost £26m spent in Boston’s shops and more than £20m in its cafés, restaurants and bars.
There were also 1,044 tourism-related jobs across Boston for the year, a 27% increase from 2021 and showing nearly a full recovery to the pre-pandemic levels of employment in the sector.
Councillor Sarah Sharpe, portfolio holder for culture at Boston Borough Council, said: “It is great to see visitors coming back and enjoying what Boston has to offer again after the pandemic, especially enjoying some of the fantastic local independent shops, restaurants and traders we are lucky to have.
“We want to continue to highlight some of the unique heritage, recreation, shopping and hospitality attractions we have and to make sure we put Boston on the map as a great place to live, work and
Councillor Dale Broughton, deputy leader at Boston Borough Council, said: “This new report is really positive in showing an increasing interest in visiting Boston, and we want to use this as a foundation to continue to build on moving forwards.”
NEW LOOK, NEW YOU AT CHERRIES OF BOSTON!
If you’re looking to update and refresh your wardrobe, popular women’s fashion boutique Cherries of Boston in Pen Street offers the latest designs and styles from leading fashion brands, perfect for every occasion.
Launched nearly 40 years ago, here you will find your perfect ensemble with a well-priced range featuring ladieswear labels such as Marble, Tribal, Dolcezza, Foil, Paz Torres, Joseph Ribkoff, Alison Sheri, Robell, Anna Montana, Olsen, Orientique and many more, in sizes 8-20.
Enjoy a friendly welcome from Cheryl and her well trained, attentive staff who are on hand to help assist you in making the right choices, whether you’re looking for a complete outfit, or the perfect separate to revive your wardrobe.
Cherries of Boston is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm. For more information, tel: 01205 354135 or find the shop on Facebook.
THE BUTTERFLY HOSPICE TRUST CELEBRATES A DECADE OF CARE
The Butterfly Hospice Trust is approaching a significant milestone – a decade of compassionate care since welcoming its first guest in 2014.
In celebration of its 10th year, the charity is planning a series of community events to not only honour its journey, but also to unveil the promising path ahead.
From the outset, the charity has been more than just a hospice; it’s the embodiment of compassionate care and support, offering 24/7 palliative care to patients and holistic support to their families and friends.
This hospice operates with the understanding that care extends beyond medical needs, it’s the personal touch and all-encompassing support that makes it an integral part of the local community.
In a testament to its evolving services, the charity has recently expanded to offer a variety of bereavement support, including a dedicated therapy service and support groups.
These additions underscore the Trust’s commitment to providing pre- and post-bereavement support, offering a guiding hand and a listening ear to those navigating the difficulties of a life-limiting illness or the loss of a loved one.
The Butterfly Hospice’s success and community integration were resoundingly acknowledged just six months ago when the charity team earned a nomination for Charity of the Year at the Lincolnshire Business Excellence Awards.
This accolade was not only a nod to their commitment to the green agenda and sustainability, but also recognised their expanded service offering in bereavement counselling, further highlighting the Trust’s innovative and caring approach to community service.
The collaborative spirit of the charity continues to foster strong relationships with a network of local and regional organisations, including local councils, and an invaluable partnership with Lincolnshire NHS Trusts.
As we approach 2024, The Butterfly Hospice Trust stands as a beacon of hope and care, a legacy that the residents of Boston hold dear.
For more information visit www.butterflyhospice.org.uk
DUCKWORTH MOTOR GROUP REFLECT ON PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
Duckworth Motor Group continues to be a huge part of the Boston community in many ways, from sponsoring Boston RFC’s shirts to supporting Boston United FC, as well as local charities and schools’ fundraising efforts.
Duckworth Motor Group has a remarkable history intertwined in the county. In 1952, James Duckworth, a skilled engineer, relocated to Lincolnshire, laying the foundation for the family’s legacy.
Martin Duckworth, James’ son, also an avid engineer, developed a fascination with motor vehicles and at the age of 12 he worked part-time at a local garage nurturing his passion. In 1962, Martin and James established their own village garage.
Driven by Martin’s love for Land Rover and with a customer base favouring the Defender, the Duckworths sought an official Land Rover franchise. After years of effort, their perseverance paid off in 1980.
The family renovated a derelict workshop, which is still the Market Rasen branch today, to accommodate a showroom and workshop.
In 2002, Martin’s son Ben joined the business, bringing with him a Land Rover apprenticeship and HND in Motor Manufacturing.
Ben Duckworth took over the business in 2007 when the group acquired the Land Rover franchise to cover the south Lincolnshire area. Duckworth took over a site on London Road, Kirton before opening a flagship JLR showroom just off the A16, and with this the Kirton site became a showroom specialising in Isuzu and selected used-approved vehicles – it was renamed ‘Duckworth Select’, as it still is today.
Heading into 2024, the group thrives with over 150 staff across three sites. Their success is fuelled by an unwavering dedication to customer satisfaction and a loyal clientele. With a passion for Land Rover and a commitment to engineering excellence, Duckworth Motor Group is the place to go for Land Rover in Lincolnshire.
We would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our customers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Photographs: Mick Fox