Exciting year ahead for county capital

Words by:
Glynis Fox
Featured in:
October 2014

Exciting new figures confirm that Lincoln’s star sector is certainly on the rise and – with millions of pounds continuing to be ploughed into the city – the future is looking bright.
In 2013, a phenomenal 3.7 million people visited Lincoln. That was six per cent more than in 2012. Irrespective of whether they travelled from elsewhere in the UK, America or the Far East, they generated an economic boost worth £168 million.

This is fantastic news. More than 2,300 people (full-time equivalent) are currently supported within the visitor sector and this extra ‘traffic’ has made a real difference to the fortunes of all sorts of businesses, from shops to hotels and cafes.

Research commissioned by the City of Lincoln Council, and carried out by STEAM, revealed that accommodation providers enjoyed a seventeen per cent increase in business from 2012 to 2013, thanks to Lincoln’s growing reputation as a great sightseeing and shopping destination.

From food and drink to recreation, shopping and transport, all sectors involved in the tourism mix benefited – growing by just under ten per cent (by sector).

Visit Lincoln Partnership manager, Emma Tatlow said: “The majority of Lincoln’s visitors come for the day, but with the developments at Lincoln Castle – which has undergone a £22m revamp – the investment in new hotels and the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta in 2015, further growth is expected in the staying visitor market.

“An excellent welcome is an essential part of the offer, to ensure visitors feel welcomed and meet knowledgeable and informed staff working in the city. A project is enabling Visit Lincoln to rollout the WorldHost customer care training to staff across the city – and has committed to Lincoln’s Cathedral Quarter achieving ‘Destination Status’ – with at least fifty per cent of staff across at least half of all visitor-related businesses in the area being trained by WorldHost.”

A Lincolnshire Ambassadors online website will also be available so that staff can learn about what Lincoln and Lincolnshire have to offer, enabling them to sell the county to visitors and answer people’s questions.

Tourism is clearly a high-value industry, but Lincoln is becoming more attractive as a shopping destination too – a trend highlighted by the fact that it continues to be a magnet for new national retailers and innovative independent enterprises.

More than £9 million has been spent on upgrading the Waterside Shopping Centre, which has recently welcomed ‘newcomers’ H&M and Jones the Bootmaker, provided Next with high-profile premises and seen the expansion of original tenant New Look. Now shoppers are looking out for the return of The Body Shop.

Waterside Shopping Centre general manager, Roy Greening said: “The arrival of H&M and Next to the Waterside will help to take Lincoln’s high street shopping experience to a new level.

“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome two of the UK’s most popular fashion brands into the centre. The opening of both stores marks the final stages of our multi-million pound refurbishment, but there’s still more to come as even more retailers make their way to the Waterside in the future.”

It’s all happening elsewhere on the high street too. Fashion store Jack Wills, which originally targeted the university crowd, opened its doors on a prime site opposite the entrance to The Cornhill.

Meanwhile, River Island which used to occupy that site has settled into a purpose-built unit two or three doors away. Joules, another hot fashion favourite, pitched up at the corner of Silver Street and High Street earlier this year.

Representatives from the John Lewis Partnership have also been to Lincoln, at the invitation of city MP Karl McCartney. During their visit they met with local council leaders and the Lincolnshire Enterprise Partnership and got the lowdown on how fast Lincoln is changing.

Of course, plans for the multi-million pound Lindongate development remain very much in the frame, as does the revitalisation of the city’s bustling market area.

Lincoln’s business and local authority leaders remain extremely proud of the fact that the city offers visitors and shoppers a fantastic mix of retail therapy and that it is not ‘all down to the major players’.

The city is famed for its niche shops and family-run enterprises – many of which are to be found in areas including The Strait, Steep Hill and Bailgate and all this is complemented by a lively programme of events, much of it masterminded by Lincoln BIG – the city’s Business Improvement Group.

Lincoln’s crowdpulling Christmas Market, which takes place in the city’s Cathedral Quarter from 4th to 7th December, will create another superb opportunity for visitors from around the world to discover exactly what makes the city tick.

The University of Lincoln continues to be a powerful catalyst for the millions of pounds still being poured into the city. In fact, it continues to show the way on the development front, by injecting serious cash into its own campus – in the form of new buildings and specialist courses.

The talent emerging from the University – and other educational establishments, such as Bishop Grosseteste University College, Lincoln College and Lincoln University Technical College for Science & Engineering (UTC) – means that the city is honing the skills of tomorrow’s workforce in line with the needs of the local economy.

At the University of Lincoln, the latest major development is the Lincoln Science and Innovation Park, off Tritton Road. The first key building on the site, The Joseph Banks Laboratories (JBL), welcomed its first intake of students in September.

Ultimately the JBL building will become home to the University’s Schools of Chemistry, Pharmacy and Life Sciences.

Plans to create the Lincoln Science and Innovation Park in the historic industrial heartland of Lincoln were announced in 2012. The project is a partnership between The University of Lincoln and Lincolnshire Co-operative. This development aims to become a focal point for investment in science and technology across the region.

Work is also underway on a £28 million student flats complex, off Ruston Way, a stone’s throw from the University of Lincoln campus. It is due to be completed by August 2015 and will provide more than 500 bedspaces.

Further ambitious plans to expand Lincoln were announced at the launch of the Lincoln Growth Strategy – which complements the City Masterplan – at a gathering at city manufacturer Bifrangi UK Ltd.

The company has just invested £50m in a new, high-tech forging facility – after winning Regional Growth Fund support. Now it is planning to develop a £15.1m research and development centre.

The Lincoln Growth Strategy aims to see Lincoln evolve into a ‘beautifully engineered, world class historic city, becoming internationally renowned for its enterprise, heritage and educational excellence…’

The priorities to make that a reality fall under the headings: great place, great access, great people, great partnerships and great innovations.

On the transport front, as we went to press Lincolnshire County Council was examining tenders from companies keen to clinch the £10m contract for the main construction work on the city’s £22m East-West Link Road. Work is due to start on the two-year project in the autumn.

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney was also hoping for a positive announcement from the Department of Transport in respect of the CastleLine project, which is pushing for rail service improvements – which could cut journey times between Lincoln and Nottingham, via Newark, and double the frequency of trains for North Hykeham.

Lincoln BIG (Business Improvement Group) is playing a significant role in helping to make the city great – for tourists, shoppers, businesses, event organisers and people in search of a fun, safe night out.

Lincoln BIG is a not-for-profit company, controlled by businesses and organisations in Lincoln City Centre, which agree to a levy on their business rates in order to fund its activities.

Over the past ten years, the Business Improvement Group has ploughed its energies into raising Lincoln’s profile, by organising popular attractions, such as the City Square Beach and Ice Rink, and teaming up with partners to stage crowdpulling festivals and colourful fairs.

The organisation manages the city Visitor Information Centre (under a service level agreement with the City of Lincoln Council), offers bus and car parking deals, manages street wardens, deals with security incidents and works to ensure Lincoln remains clean, bright and festooned with floral and festive displays.

Over the past five years alone, it has invested £6.5m in Lincoln city centre. About £1.6m of that has been funded by the BID (Business Improvement District) levy.

But Lincoln BIG has also secured more than £2.5m by chasing grant funding streams. Now, after an October ballot of its members, it is hoping to get the green light to do even more over the next five years.

Lincoln BIG chief executive, Matt Corrigan said: “2014 has turned out to be really busy. We are pleased with what we have achieved, particularly the installation of three brown signs on the A1, directing visitors to Lincoln – thanks to the help of the city’s MP Karl McCartney.”

Lincoln’s short-term bike hire scheme – Hirebike – has expanded by installing new docking stations and introducing more bikes.

In addition to the seven locations launched in August 2013, Lincolnshire County Council has introduced additional bikes and five additional locations.

One of 48 bikes can be rented from one of the following 12 locations across Lincoln:
• Brayford Waterfront
• Lincoln train station
• Hykeham train station
• Station Road
• Kingsley Road
• Birchwood Avenue (opp. Birchwood Centre)
• Newark Road (opposite Asda)
• Lakeview Close (off Newark Road)
• The Showroom
• Moorland Avenue
• Skellingthorpe Community Centre
• Burton Waters

Since the scheme launched last year, 1,500 bikes have been rented and more than 1,000 people have registered to use the scheme.

Before renting a bike, individuals must first become a member. Membership is free, but users are asked to deposit a minimum of £5 credit when registering. Once registered, bikes are free for the first 30 minutes of every rental. It is then £1 per hour, and capped at £4 for a full-day rental.

To sign up, or for more information, visit www.hirebikelincoln.co.uk or call 01522 370143.

Hirebike is funded through Access LN6 – a multi-million pound programme to increase sustainable transport opportunities in Lincoln and Hykeham.

The development of the Lincoln Science and Innovation Park is the latest step in the University of Lincoln’s expansion of the provision of core science, technology and engineering (STEM) subjects. This included the creation of its School of Engineering in collaboration with Siemens Plc in 2009.

In 2013 the University set up a new School of Pharmacy. This year sees the launch of its School of Chemistry and 2015 will see the introduction of a new School of Mathematics and Physics. These academic developments have been funded through investment from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). This year has been declared the University’s Year of Science, in celebration of these developments.

The founding director of Lincoln Science and Innovation Park is Tom Blount, who joined from the University of Warwick Science Park earlier this year.

“We are creating a community where the organic exchange of ideas, skills and funding between businesses and academia will bring mutual benefits. It will be at the heart of a network of entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and like-minded businesses stretching across Lincolnshire and beyond.

“We will help to create highly skilled jobs, retain graduates, generate investment and stimulate the growth of new industries,” he said.

The flagship building at the Lincoln Science and Innovation Park is the Joseph Banks Laboratories, named after the famous botanist from Lincolnshire who sailed with Captain Cook on HMS Endeavour. It will be home to the Schools of Pharmacy, Chemistry and Life Sciences, along with the adjacent Minster House.

The Joseph Banks Laboratories boasts a cutting-edge Pharmacy Clinical Skills Suite and scientific laboratories designed to the highest possible standards of disabled access. These developments have been funded with two significant philanthropic gifts, from the Maltby family and the South Nottinghamshire Centre Fund.

The Pharmacy Clinical Skills Suite will be named the Maltby Suite, in recognition of the generous donation by brothers David and Anthony Maltby.

Mark Brennan is director of Pharmacy and deputy head of school. He said: “Our philosophy is to produce graduates that are completely prepared for near-patient practice and delivery of care. Students will go out into the world fully equipped with the qualities needed to improve quality of life for patients through the appropriate use of medicines.”

Professor Ian Scowen, head of the new School of Chemistry added: “It is an ideal space to conduct industry-relevant scientific research and students will gain vital professional experience working alongside industry partners.”

For more than thirty years, a tank has taken pride of place at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life, loaned by Bovington Tank Museum to honour the city’s role in the invention of the machine.

During that time, it was believed to be Flirt II, a tank damaged during the war in France, captured by the Germans, taken to Belgium for propaganda reasons and not seen again until she reappeared at Bovington. However, late last year, evidence came to light suggesting it was in fact a different Mark IV Female tank that had returned.

Tank historian, Gwyn Evans said: “The evidence is that Flirt is, in fact, tank number 2743, which was possibly known as ‘Daphne’ and saw service in France with 12th Company, D Battalion of the Tank Corps in August 1917.

“After the war, it was presented to the city of Gloucester and stood in Gloucester Park until the 1940s. Later, it arrived at the Royal Armoured Corps Centre at Bovington Camp, Dorset, where it became one of the first exhibits of the Tank Museum.

“I’d be pleased to hear from anyone who may have information or photographs of this tank from any stage in its history, and I’m especially keen to locate its logbook, which I believe was still inside the tank when it arrived in Gloucester in 1919.”

Gwyn may be contacted through either the Tank Museum or the Museum of Lincolnshire Life.

With about six months to go until the re-opening of the historic monument, the £22 million Lincoln Castle Revealed project is gathering a head of steam.

As we went to press, repairs to the castle walls remained ahead of schedule, a revamp of the prison chapel was still underway and interpretation work to bring the attraction to life for visitors was going to plan.

Excitingly, a new vault has been created for Magna Carta, just in time for its 800th anniversary in 2015, which is expected to bring thousands of visitors to the city.

Project manager Mary Powell, from Lincolnshire County Council, said work to redesign the archaeology area at the site was still underway. Digs unearthed a sarcophagus containing human remains dating back to Saxon times and nine other skeletons were found nearby.

“The most intact skull of the ten skeletons was sent to Dundee University for 3D facial reconstruction and the results are fascinating. A replica has also been made of shoes found in the sarcophagus,” said Mary.

On 23rd September, businesses and individuals went along to a Countdown to Lincoln Castle Revealed event at the Lincolnshire Showground, where they were updated on the project.

With 2015 poised to be a key year for Lincoln, they snapped up the chance to attend a wide range of workshops, focusing on key figures from the restoration, the latest thinking on the archaeological finds and how researchers will reveal the Castle’s stories. Delegates also explored what the upgrading of the Castle would mean for their businesses.

A new website and Castle Guidebook are planned.

* Lincoln Cathedral will be holding a Magna Carta Gala Dinner on 8th June 2015, to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta’s sealing.

The four-course, black-tie, fundraising event, will take place in the magnificent Nave, and will be hosted by the Dean. It will include a champagne reception, four-course dinner and entertainment.

Readers can find out more (and book tables) by contacting magnacarta@lincolncathedral.com or clicking onto www.visitlincoln.com/whats-on/magna-carta-dinner

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