Funding boost for Sleaford

The traditional market town looks set to benefit from major improvements planned for the street scene, with progress on enterprise and big strides in 2030 carbon net-zero ambition – Melanie Burton reports.

Plans are being drawn up to reinvigorate Sleaford’s Market Place as an enhanced public space where people can spend longer enjoying the town centre and all it offers.

Owned and operated by North Kesteven District Council, the Market Place’s primary function is currently as a car park, with a market run by Sleaford Town Council three days a week.

Under the plans, which were submitted for formal consideration in July, parking would cease in the square, the market would remain and the entire area would be upgraded to an improved public space for residents and visitors to enjoy and better support public events. 

If successful, the scheme would be funded by more than £1m of a Government grant for economic renewal and it has been worked up as a priority action in direct response to a long-held aspiration for improved public space at the heart of the town.

North Kesteven District Council Leader, Councillor Richard Wright said: “As the main town square for Sleaford, the Market Place cannot currently fulfil its potential due to its daily use as a car park and the limitations that places on it. 

“The vision to refresh and repurpose it into a predominantly pedestrian space would provide a comfortable, car-free area in the town centre for people to linger and spend longer whilst going about their business in Sleaford.

“Such a welcoming central space to relax in and enjoy will be of great benefit to the town, socially, culturally and economically.

“As a new facility for residents and visitors, our hope is that it will also help increase overall footfall, dwell-time and trade in the town centre, for the benefit of all.”

MARKET PLACE UPGRADE
Under the proposal, the entire Market Place and surrounding footpaths would be refreshed with new paving in keeping with the area’s heritage, highlighting the key features of St Denys’ Church and the war memorial, which would be lit to showcase its importance.

With two raised planting beds and seating, it is hoped the restored Market Place will bring a renewed vibrancy to the market itself.

The scheme is designed in such a way as to ensure that the market can still operate from the square, but in a much safer and pedestrian-friendly environment with no conflict with vehicles.

If planning permission is granted, the project would receive in excess of £1 million from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

The Market Place would close to vehicles in late spring 2024 as contractors arrive onsite and it would potentially be ready to reopen as a refreshed space in early 2025. 

“Knowing what a major change this represents, we have given deep consideration to the likely impacts of the work as well as the benefits the finished space would bring to Sleaford,” said Councillor Wright.

“We have been gifted this UK Shared Prosperity Fund allocation and it is important that we don’t miss the opportunity to make use of it to reinvigorate a key location at the heart of Sleaford, to bring about lasting and positive change for Sleaford town centre and our wider local economy.

“In seeking to fulfil a long-held aspiration expressed for the town, we have brought forward a proposal which we feel will give renewed purpose to this historic space, restore it as a significant asset and reimagine it with fresh potential for community use in such a beautiful setting,” he said.

SLEAFORD MOOR ENTERPRISE PARK
Another boost which should help to attract newcomers to the town is the major progress that has been made on phase one of the new 37-acre Sleaford Moor Enterprise Park, with units under offer in one plot and strong levels of enquiries for space on the other.

The units are bright and airy, with high roofs and ample space. They can be seen from the A17 which runs adjacent to the Enterprise Park and a row of units in particular, with more than double-height glass windows and smart black cladding, now provides an impressive frontage to the site from Pride Parkway. 

Within plot one are nine units benefitting from solar panels, energy-efficient insulation and electric vehicle charging points. Plot three contains six slightly larger grow-on business units also benefitting from solar, EV charging points and more.

Councillor Wright said: “Our flagship Sleaford Moor Enterprise Park is taking great shape and the boost it will bring for our local economy is already being reflected in enquiries.

“The units look incredibly smart and some of the features to help save energy in use, such as skylights, can already be seen.”

RACE TO GO GREEN
The race to carbon net-zero is intensifying for businesses of all sizes and those in the North Kesteven area are no exception. However, 300 small businesses in the district will receive support to discover why going green is so important to their business, while also saving them money.

Under its 2030 carbon net-zero ambition for both the council and the wider district, NKDC is subsidising places on the Zellar online sustainability platform, so local small and medium-sized businesses can access the scheme free of charge and kickstart their sustainability journeys.

Businesses using the Zellar platform can reduce emissions and save up to £4,100 on energy bills.

While there are many examples of businesses within North Kesteven making great strides in their carbon-cutting journey, there are also many smaller businesses which would value support in taking climate action, with nine out of ten being unaware of their carbon footprint and struggling to make headway on sustainability.

The council-led programme is part-funded by SSE’s Sustainable Business Communities project with Zellar.

Deputy chief executive at North Kesteven District Council, Phil Roberts, said: “Launching this opportunity in partnership with Zellar and SSE is the latest step in our journey to reaching net zero by 2030.

“Businesses have a vital role to play in tackling climate change, but many are unsure about where to start or why it could benefit them.

“This project will make it easier for businesses to calculate their carbon footprint and find out how to reduce it while saving money.”

To qualify for a free one-year Zellar licence, a business must be a micro-SME (up to 10 employees) or SME (under 250 employees) with a base in North Kesteven.

The offer is available to the first 300 qualifying enterprises that apply before 31st March 2024.

Zellar helps companies to calculate and understand their carbon emissions and then build an achievable plan to reduce them, based on their size and sector.

It is already helping more than 1,000 UK SMEs to plan, activate, measure, report and share their business sustainability journeys, and reduce their energy costs.

Also, as part of the council’s journey to achieve net zero carbon by 2030, it has installed 195 solar panels at its offices in Sleaford which is set to save more than £22,000 and 14.2 tons of carbon per year.

Amidst increasing calls for everyone to reduce their environmental impact in order to halt climate change, it is hoped this will also serve as an example of the possible benefits of going green.

The solar panels installed on the Kesteven Street building came at a cost of £152,000, drawn from the Council’s ‘Invest to Save’ reserve – a fund specifically earmarked for projects that reduce long-term overheads.

Councillor Wright said: “We are keeping to our commitment to reach net zero carbon from energy by 2030 and expanding our use of renewables to help us get there.

“With energy costs rising for all of us, this is an investment in the future that will save us money in the long term, money that we can put back into local services.”

PROPOSALS FOR TICKET OFFICE
There is one cloud on the horizon, however, which has caused much concern in the town and that is the planned closure of the ticket office at Sleaford train station in line with the national modernisation programme.

The proposals, announced by the Rail Delivery Group, aim to bring staff out from behind ticket office windows to provide more support for customers buying tickets and navigating stations, as they move in to new, multi-skilled ‘customer host’ roles.

Train companies across the country launched a 21-day passenger consultation but extended it by five and a half weeks until 1st September following a widespread backlash.

Stations without ticket offices already make up 43% of those operating across the UK, with a further 40% being staffed part-time.

Chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, Jacqueline Starr, said: “Train companies have listened to feedback, and extended the time available to respond to the consultation.

“Operators are keen to give more people a chance to give their views on the proposals, so they can bring the railway up to date with dramatic shifts in customer buying habits, while supporting all its customers as the railway evolves and adapts.

“While local plans vary, the aim of the proposals is to bring staff out from behind ticket office windows to offer more help for customers buying tickets and navigating stations.

“At the same time ticket vending machines are being upgraded to offer a wider range of fares, and we have committed that no customer will have to go out of their way to buy a ticket.”

CREATIVE MURAL UNVEILED
Youngsters in Sleaford have been given the opportunity to put their own stamp on a new youth club in the town.

The Mosaic Youth Hub in the Riverside Centre engages young people of secondary school age, years 7-13, in participating in positive activities in Sleaford and the surrounding area.

Thanks to a grant from the Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant, the youngsters produced a piece of creative artwork to illustrate and capture the warmth and welcoming ethos of the youth club.

It was presented at a mural showcase event at the Mosaic Youth Hub back in July and has been on show ever since. The exhibition will run until Sunday 10th September.

The project was funded via the plant’s Power Fund, a £25,000 annual fund that supports local community initiatives within a five-mile radius of the power station, and which is administered by North Kesteven District Council.

The mural project was run in collaboration with Ruth Burrows and the exhibition includes footage of the design process, collage workshop outcomes, individual drawings, and illustrations as well as a timelapse film of the mural being painted by the artist, youth leaders and young people.

Mosaic Youth Club work leader, Paul Tricker said: “The project was born through an aspiration to help facilitate young people to put their ‘stamp’ on their new youth hub building.

“The process of working with Ruth, the Hub, Sleaford REP Grant Fund and the young people to create this piece of artwork has been great fun, and the end result of the mural fully encapsulates the joy of the young people, the town we live in and the purpose of Mosaic Youth Hub.”

NKDC Leader, Councillor Richard Wright said: “The panel especially liked the engagement involved in

The Sleaford REP Power Fund was set up in January 2020, with the money provided by Schroders Greencoat, the owners of the power station.  

Schroders Greencoat is one of the largest investors in the UK’s renewable energy sector.

HANDLEY MONUMENT IMPROVEMENTS
Plans are in the pipeline to improve Sleaford’s well-known Handley Monument and landscape the area around it.

The monument in Southgate was built in memory of former local MP Henry Handley, who died in 1846. North Kesteven District Council said plans were at an early stage but could include new feature lighting, seating and a plaque.

The money will come from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which is also being used to fund plans to revamp the town’s Market Place with flowerbeds and outdoor seating.

The Handleys were a prominent family in Sleaford during the late 18th century and early19th century. An offshoot of the notable Newark family, the Handleys of Sleaford came to hold positions as lawyers, bankers, politicians and clerics in the town and attained great wealth and holdings in the area.

In the latter part of the 1800s elements of the family emigrated to New Zealand (and later Australia) as well as returning to Newark.

As well as the Handley Monument, buildings and features related to the Handleys still exist in modern day Sleaford including Handley Street, Benjamin Handley’s manor house on Northgate and Lloyds Bank (Alvey House).

COULD YOU BE SLEAFORD’S NEW TOWN CRIER?
“Oyez, oyez”’ is a cry that will be ringing out around the town of Sleaford over the first weekend of September as the fourth Town Crier competition gets underway.

Town criers from around the UK will be in Sleaford Market Place on Saturday 2nd September to compete against each other and show off their talents.

The event was first held in the town in 2019 but due to the pandemic the second competition didn’t take place until 2021.

Last year’s competition was hosted by Sleaford’s own town crier, John Griffiths, who added a twist to the competition by introducing a Star Trek theme for the second round.

The first round was the traditional ‘home cry’, where criers “bestow their home town”, telling the audience where they are from and what is good about it.

John said: “I like to put something out that is different and something that the criers can make funny if they want to.

“Some of the town crier competitions we go to are serious and that is fair enough but for me we are there to entertain and make people laugh while we are doing it.”

Around 13 town criers competed in the 2022 competition from different places in the UK including North Yorkshire and Lancashire.

John is originally from Wales but came to Sleaford when he was stationed at RAF Cranwell. He first became Sleaford’s Town Crier in 2015 when the former crier, Jeff Brocklebank, retired.

The contestants are scored on volume, clarity, content, accuracy in sticking to their scripts, bearing and manner.

ALL WELCOME AT THE HUB
The Hub in Sleaford has launched an exciting summer programme, offering a range of contemporary craft, design, dance and creative arts experiences.

The Hub’s community led exhibition, Together We Are Powerful, has taken over their Main Gallery and offers an opportunity for everyone to share their stories and memories by lending an object to be part of it.

The Hub provides dynamic learning opportunities for people of all ages and abilities. Workshops, talks, classes and performances cater to a wide audience, and they extend their creative activities to schools, community and care settings.

Collaborating with partners, The Hub coordinates participatory arts projects, events, festivals, celebrations and public commissions, fostering a vibrant arts community.

After refurbishment in 2021, The Hub emerged as a multi-arts centre with enhanced studio, workshop, gallery spaces and jetty seating area overlooking the River Slea.

The centre’s shop offers a unique collection of handmade craft objects and design gifts, while the CaféBar serves locally sourced speciality food and drink.

To celebrate its 20th anniversary this October, The Hub is hosting the RiverLight Festival, which will showcase Sleaford’s history, stories and unique spaces, with the river as its focal point.

The festivities promise to be a culmination of artist and community-led activities, promoting local pride

Don’t miss out on the exciting creative experiences The Hub Sleaford has to offer this summer and beyond.

For more information visit www.hub-sleaford.org.uk/@hub-sleaford

NURTURE YOUR PLANTS
Enjoy your gorgeous gardens with a wide range of quality greenhouses designed to help you get the best from your plant and floral displays.

As leading agents for Elite Greenhouses, the UK’s premier manufacturer, Andrew Dams prides itself on offering a vast range of different models to suit every gardener’s needs and budget.

Sow the seeds of your favourite herbs and vegetables and nurture your plants in a new greenhouse while watching them grow in ideal conditions before planting out in your outdoor space.

Established in 1983, this well established family run business located in Billinghay, which specialises in top quality timber sheds, summerhouses, pergolas and garage doors, as well as Elite greenhouses, has created a special paved area where customers are invited to view selected designs.

Designs include lean-to greenhouses, as well as the traditional apex greenhouse, with each Elite greenhouse available in different sizes and displayed in the traditional aluminium finish, with the choice of powder coated colours to suit any preference also on display.

The 10 different colours currently available from Elite are: Mocha, Brown, Graphite, White, Olive, Green, Black, Berry, Stone and Navy.

Elite greenhouses
“Elite Greenhouses are a quality product,” says Daniel Dams. “The workmanship that goes into producing the greenhouses is second to none. Elite have been running as a family business for 70 years, which really appeals to us.

“All Elite greenhouses are made of aluminium to prevent rust of and enhance the longevity of the product and all clips are stainless steel. The nuts and bolts are tested to be 2½ times stronger than normal aluminium bolts and there are three different glazing options available, so customers can choose the traditional horticultural glass (which we also stock for clients needing replacement panes), toughened glass (all our show models are toughened glass) or a polycarbonate glazing option.

“All glazing is cushioned by neoprene beading, which has a greater resistance to the wind, with the option to have temperature controlled opening windows and louvres, which we recommend, to keep the greenhouse well ventilated throughout the hottest months of the year.”

The standard prices include supply and assembly by Andrew Dams’ friendly and highly experienced workforce, although self-assembly supply can be organised by arrangement at a super competitive price, within a 70-mile radius.

The showroom is open from Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and Saturday 10am to 4pm.

For more information visit www.andrewdams.co.uk

QUEENS HEAD CROWNED WITH NEW LOOK
The award-winning pub and restaurant in Kirkby-La-Thorpe has unveiled its new look lounge, with exciting seasonal menus on offer in the elegant restaurant.

Following a remarkable year of growth and development, Francis and Erin Taylor, owners of the Queens Head, Kirkby-La-Thorpe near Sleaford, have created a warm and welcoming business which prides itself on serving the highest quality, locally sourced and freshly cooked food.

“We want to be the place for a relaxed evening drink, a snack, and attract people for a true night out; relax, browse the menus, enjoy your meal, and then relax afterwards in our lounge, and following the latest changes, this is now happening,” explains Francis, who together with his hospitality team, have their sights set on delivering anAA/Michelin quality experience and “bringing London options up to Lincolnshire”.

Since taking over the pub two years ago, the couple have maintained their vision of offering all round excellence and, with the recent refurbishment, have created a relaxed, comfortable, peaceful and homely setting which is proving popular as a relaxing space to meet up and chat in stylish and comfortable surroundings.

Customer experience
This forward-thinking plan, which also includes growing their own micro herbs, has already been reflected with news that the Queens Head has made the finals of this year’s Destination Lincolnshire Tourist Awards for Pub of the Year. Among the local suppliers providing outstanding fresh produce are Riley Taylor (Boston) and Corner Farm (Helpringham) who deliver “amazing quality” directly to the kitchen.

“Our tasting menus provide the opportunity to try something special, similarly with our wine tasting. We try to source the best of everything and these evenings are set to showcase what we are about.

“When it comes to service, we have managed to land some extra special people with experience, personality and ability to make our guest experience as good as you would expect anywhere.”

Also popular with locals and visitors alike is the conservatory area and connected outdoor space, which is ideal for any type of gathering, weddings or parties.

“We’ve hosted three wedding receptions this year so far which have been a huge success. We also offer a 1GB high-speed fibre connection which together with the screen makes it an ideal place for business meetings (with delicious lunch options!) as well as club/group get-togethers.

“We are here for the village, we are here for something different for the Sleaford and local areas so come on down and see for yourself!”

For more information visit www.thequeensheadpub.com

TREAT YOURSELF TO HOME-MADE DELIGHTS
Opened in March this year, the Queens Head Coffee Shop in Kesteven Street offers the same quality dishes as its sister business, but in lunch form, served with a great choice of beverages, including frappés and specialist coffees.

Headed by chef Courtney Taylor, here you can indulge in delicious light bites such as freshly made Bloomsbury Bakery baguettes filled with Corner Farm ham with a treacle and orange glaze, as well as home-made bakes including Red Velvet Cake, Oreo Brownie Cheesecake and Kinder Bueno Cookie Bars.

For savoury lovers, don’t miss the popular Goat’s Cheese Tarts and Home-made Proper Sausage Rolls, featuring Corner Farm pork. All available to eat in or takeaway.

This dog-friendly coffee shop which also offers a Loyalty Card with 15% discount on all items available to regulars, NHS and Emergency Services workers and locals, seats 25 inside and 20 outside. Open from Monday to Friday from 7.30am to 4.30pm.

Tel: 01529 707123 or find on Facebook: Queens Head Coffee Shop

Photographs: Mick Fox



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Calling all UK young artists!Doddington Young Sculptor Exhibition Doddington Hall and Gardens, Lincolnshire invites submissions from UK-based sculptors and 3D artists, aged under 30, for an exciting new open exhibition to be held this summer. Doddington is looking for pieces to be exhibited in the historic working Kitchen Garden, which complement the Garden and its surroundings. The Doddington Young Sculptor Exhibition will run alongside the main bi-annual Sculpture at Doddington exhibition and is an opportunity to exhibit alongside some of the finest contemporary sculptors selected from across the country and further afield. Prizes: 1st prize – £750, 2nd prize – £250Submission deadline: Sunday April 21st 2024Further details about eligibility, terms and conditions can be found at: www.doddingtonhall.com/event/young-sculptor-exhibition/To apply, please email your submission as a PDF document to angus@doddingtonhall.com ... See MoreSee Less