Caistor set for funding boost
Melanie Burton looks at how new funding grants are contributing to regeneration plans in and around this historic town.
Once a Roman fortress, the charming town of Caistor, which nestles on the hillside along the Viking Way in the Lincolnshire Wolds, has something to suit everyone whether it be walking, shopping, rambling or socialising.
It has a history going back more than 2,000 years and is one of the most important conservation areas in the whole of West Lindsey.
With 56 Grade II listed buildings, two Grade I listed buildings, a scheduled ancient monument, two medieval fishponds and more than 160 significant archaeological finds, there is no wonder the Caistor community is justly proud of its heritage.
It was a medieval borough, mentioned in the Domesday Book and the original town was ravaged by fire in 1681.
However, work is due to begin this year on a £2.4 million transformation project thanks to the community investing nearly £165,0000 in community shares and other funding grants, including the award of a Government Community Ownership Fund Grant of £225,000 from the Department for Levelling Up.
The plans include transforming the 2-4 Market Place buildings into three new retail spaces, a permanent home for the town’s archives, a restaurant/café, and five self-catering holiday lets.
It will also see the reinstatement of an outdoor courtyard, the creation of two business/office or craft units and a new first floor community space to hire for functions and exhibitions.
Not only will this historic building be restored but it will also significantly contribute to the economic and social regeneration of Caistor town centre.
The project, developed by the Caistor & District Community Trust, will also create new jobs, support new and existing businesses, increase footfall in the town, and support the visitor economy and offer new volunteering and partnership opportunities for the community.
It was back in 2016 when the vision was first formed and it was December 2022 when the Trust was able to announce it had reached its funding target and the work could begin.
The scheme had already received a welcome boost when Joe Barrett from the Government’s High Streets Task Force delivered a workshop with senior council, business and community leaders in the autumn.
Following that visit, the High Streets Task Force submitted a report to help inform plans for regeneration and support the local community, to address the issues that were blocking change in the town.
The report acknowledged Caistor’s many strengths and recommended creating a better space for socialising and events in the Market Place.
Mr Barratt said: “Despite being one of the smallest locations we have visited, I believe that many of the UK’s biggest towns and cities could learn a lot from the pro-active place leadership work that is being delivered in Caistor.
“I was particularly impressed by the plans to bring 2-4 Market Place back to life with new retail, holiday rental and community spaces. The vision for bringing these three units back into use would be truly transformational.”
Leader of West Lindsey District Council and councillor for the Caistor & Yarborough ward, Councillor Owen Bierley added: “We know that Caistor’s heritage, location and community make it a very special place and it is great to see this recognised by the appointed expert too and that the plans for 2-4 Market Place and associated place making are being widely acknowledged as positive progress for Caistor.”
NEW ENTERPRISE PARK
Another transformation can be seen at the town’s newly established enterprise park Hillcrest Park which reached completion in the autumn of last year.
Consisting of 17 rural enterprise units, the park is now fully occupied and is home to 11 separate businesses providing employment for 40 employees and encompassing a wide range of sectors including artisan crafts, digital marketing, renewable energy and theatre productions.
The development was granted planning permission in 2016 and sought to regenerate what was an empty site in a strategic and prominent location alongside the A46.
The development was supported by funding from the Rural Development Programme for England.
Property developer and investor, Oliver Lawrence commented: “As someone who has grown up in Caistor, I knew there would be strong demand for the premises.
“It was a challenging process to achieve the vision we set out with a few years ago, but it really is fantastic that Hillcrest Park has turned a dilapidated site into one that is now thriving with local enterprise.”
The site provides accommodation across a range of unit sizes, so has been able to support local micro businesses and larger enterprises too.
Councillor Steve Critten of Caistor Town Council and Caistor Community Trust added: “It is great to see the site active with tenants and I am very keen to highlight engagement opportunities for businesses as part of the Caistor Neighbourhood Plan review that is now underway.
“The current plan adopted in 2016 supported development of the Hillcrest site via its policy, which sought to support the development of business and start-up units particularly by conversion of existing empty previously developed land.
“Speaking to the developer and business owners it is clear we need to try and ensure, that when businesses do expand there is opportunity to do so in Caistor and this needs to be reflected in the review of the Neighbourhood Plan.”
The enterprise park is home to a whole range of diverse businesses from car dealers and outdoor furniture to an artisan gift shop.
Jeremy Griffiths, director of Century Cars chose to relocate his business there in order to remove the commute.
Jonathan Airey, operations director for Rase Outdoor Living, a nationwide supplier of bespoke aluminium pergolas, which occupies multiple units at the site, said: “The site is the ideal location and a great opportunity to gain the space we need and remain in local premises.”
Khalid Radi of KR Wood Artisan finishes and refines his hand-made wooden creations in his workshop based on the park as well as displaying a range of items in his showroom which is open to the public.
The town even has its own riding school in Moor Lane. Caistor Equestrian Centre is a beautiful purpose-built establishment sitting in more than 30 acres of grounds.
It specialises in all aspects of equestrian, including competitions, training and horse care, with safe hacking, and a quality livery service.
The riding school horses and ponies have been selected to accommodate a wide range of abilities, from beginner to more accomplished riders, including those with special needs.
The extensive facilities include international sized indoor and outdoor arenas which host the majority of its events and cross-country courses, with jumps ranging from 30cm to 1.05m, including water complexes, banks, ditches and extensive Lincolnshire Wolds countryside hacks.
It also offers a full range of livery options to suit most owners, including 32 top of the range American Barn style stabling with year-round, post and rail fenced grass turnout.
Schooling is also available by staff who compete at affiliated level themselves.
Caistor’s location makes it an ideal base for anyone wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of modern-day life to enjoy a ramble in the picturesque countryside of the Lincolnshire Wolds.
But it is also a firm favourite with people looking for a rural retreat in which to relax and unwind.
The town can boast two top holiday parks offering adults only five-star accommodation and everything anyone needs to enjoy a staycation without having to leave the site.
Caistor Lakes Leisure Park and Restaurant in Brigg Road seems to have achieved a perfect balance between five-star luxury and simple countryside staycations.
It offers 28 hard-standing touring pitches, a multi-award winning restaurant and six lodges situated on three well stocked fishing lakes.
The lakes are all designed to suit everyone’s needs.
The 1.5-acre Foundry Pool has been created for match fishing, corporate events, coaching days and day ticket fishing.
Heavily stocked with ide, bream, tench, perch, roach, barble, crucian, chub and carp up to 10lb, it is ideal for the angler wanting to hone his fishing skills and catch a large mixed bag of coarse fish.
Photographs: Mick Fox