Thoughts sought to create thriving future

Words by:
Melanie Burton
Featured in:
September 2021

The attractive traditional market town of Sleaford may be steeped in history but its community is well aware of the importance of keeping up to date with modern trends and how actions now will shape its future. By Melanie Burton.

Residents have been invited to take part in a large-scale discussion on what it is like to live in the Sleaford area.

Lincolnshire Police and other partners have organised a community engagement event called The Sleaford Speaks World Café, which will take place this month and gives locals the chance to air their views in an informal way about the town and how it can be improved in the years ahead.

MutualGain, a specialist company in community engagement, has been called in to help facilitate the discussions and a working group including professionals, partner organisations and key members of the community has been set up.

The working group will be made up of about 30 people who will take part in a training day and learn about what experiences and skills matter to communities, how to create community energy and how to write a community focused report from the World Café process.

Leader of North Kesteven District Council, Councillor Richard Wright said: “The World Café is a big event with between 100 and 200 people attending and the aim is to harvest the thoughts of Sleaford area people about where they live and how things could be even better than they are already.

“There will be lots of coffee and lots of cake and people attending will write on tablecloths, which will be gathered in at the end so the information can be coded and analysed.”

Insp Mark Hilson of Lincolnshire Police added: “The use of World Cafés as a method of understanding complex issues is growing. They are often the start of a wider engagement process and provide an opportunity to discuss, listen and exchange views about specific community issues.”

The event starts at 11am on Saturday 11th September at Carre’s Grammar School.

The World Café event is just one scheme in a whole host of projects designed to help Sleaford secure a thriving future.

The vision for a £56 million Enterprise Park for the town is well on the way to fruition with the release of detailed plans for the first business units to be built on site including the raft of eco-conscious measures within them.

Solar panels, electric vehicle charging points and shelters, bicycle storage, thermal energy saving measures and more are planned in this first phase of the Enterprise Park created by North Kesteven District Council.

Around this phase of units will be native tree and self-watering planting areas sculpted to collect and make use of rainwater, hedging and wildflower meadow planting to support pollinators.

Provision has been made too for a wide range of wildlife with bat and bird boxes and hedgehog homes, plus log and matter piles for reptiles, insects and invertebrates to also reflect their importance and their need for habitat.

The plans for this first phase are made up of two plots. Plot One contains nine units which would benefit from solar panels, energy efficient insulation and electric vehicle charging points along with the inclusion of a green wall, while Plot Two contains six slightly larger grow-on units with solar panels, an electric vehicle charging shelter and extra efficient insulation.

Planners are currently considering the application for the first phase. If approved, both plots will be built speculatively and could be completed before winter next year.

Councillor Richard Wright said in total the units would create an extra 2,367 square metres of new space for business, bringing fresh potential for jobs and economic growth.

“We have already received a substantial amount of interest in Sleaford Moor Enterprise Park, which we feel demonstrates two things – that there is demand for new business space in the district because it is a great place to live, work and invest, and that there is a need for developments which build back better.

“We hope that the range of energy-saving and wildlife conscious measures in this first phase of units will not only support our actions on climate but ripple out and inspire a greater level of change.”

Sleaford Moor Enterprise Park will be an extension to the already established industrial area in the north east of the town, creating potential for local supply chains, innovation and collaboration along with opportunity for connections with any new businesses drawn in by the site. It benefits from the strategic east to west access the A17 gives across Lincolnshire and its connections with the A1 and east coast ports. It is also easily accessible by bus, cycle and on foot including new pathways to accommodate this as sustainable travel choices.

Amenities in Sleaford are within walking distance and there would be pedestrian access to new-build housing nearby and the adjoining Sleaford Moor woodland for increased wellbeing.

But just as businesses see Sleaford as a ideal place to establish themselves, visitors from far and wide come to the town for its abundant heritage and historical landmarks. For instance Sleaford’s skyline is dominated by the 144-foot stone spire of its 13th-century parish church of St Denys, which is as large as a cathedral.

The Spire was added in 1200, making it one of the oldest such spires in England and inside the church, the oldest historical features are the 14th-century nave, aisles, and north transept. Other highlights include a 15th-century rood screen and a communion rail thought to have been designed by Sir Christopher Wren.

To the north of the churchyard is the Vicarage, one of the oldest buildings in Sleaford, with a timber-framed main block built in the 15th century.
A pleasant walk along the Slea River brings you to the restored Cogglesford Mill, where there has been a watermill for more than 1,000 years. On the eastern edge of the town, the mill dates to around 1750, though it seems likely there was a mill on this spot since the Saxon period.

And the age-old sights and sounds of water-powered milling will return hopefully very soon to Cogglesford Watermill following £51,000 of works which also include improvements for visitors.

The mill’s stones currently grind flour using electricity, after issues with the waterwheel were identified in 2018 and the decision was taken to rely solely on the back-up electric motor to help protect the wheel from further damage.

The new works have seen the waterwheel carefully repaired and restored, safeguarding it for future generations to see and enjoy as part of the site’s authentic milling experience.

Meanwhile a further £20,500 from NKDC will fund an improved experience for visitors to Cogglesford, including new information boards and potential improvements to protect other features where appropriate.

Councillor Wright said: “It’s incredibly important to ensure our history and heritage in North Kesteven lives on, both for our enjoyment now and for the benefit of future generations, through such sites as Cogglesford Watermill and we’re very proud to offer it as a visitor attraction in the Heart of Lincolnshire. Witnessing the grind of its millstones provides a wonderful living, moving link back to the past. To see and hear the waterwheel turn once more from the waters of the River Slea will be a wonderful moment.

“We’re keen that everyone has the opportunity to come and experience Cogglesford Watermill at its fullest, from school groups to individuals and families of all ages, so at the same time as restoration to the waterwheel we’ll be improving the visitor experience in lots of ways.

“Investing in this project not only preserves our heritage but also plays an important part in our tourism strategy, which will be vital in helping kick-start the local economy coming out of the pandemic.”

Both tranches of the works are expected to start in late spring and planned to complete in early summer, allowing the mill to reopen as a popular heritage attraction where visitors can see the thousand-year tradition of milling at the site continue.

The mill’s backup motor will remain in place to provide any extra power needed. The works aren’t expected to impact the paths and walkways surrounding the mill.

Another thing Sleaford is renowned for is its arts and crafts and it still remains home to the National Centre for Craft & Design (NCCD).

However following the merger of the NCCD and artsNK together with a major £1.2m capital refurbishment, it will now be known as the Hub.

Funded by North Kesteven District Council, the refurbishment has created a brand-new multi-use dance and conferencing studio, craft workshop, indoor and outdoor Café Bar, and new ground floor gallery space, alongside the centre’s renowned main gallery and shop.

Director, Clare Edwards says: “The redevelopment of the centre provides us with brilliant new imaginative spaces that will help us deliver more creative opportunities for all people, ages and abilities in Sleaford, North Kesteven and beyond.”

It may have changed its name but the Hub will retain its status as ‘a national centre for craft and design’ and continue to showcase celebrated exhibitions and learning programmes.

When it was finally able to reopen in May it launched two exhibitions to mark the start of a new chapter: Jo Fairfax: Play and NCCD Art Club.

Play is a joyful collection of installations by the multi-disciplinary artist. It is Jo’s first solo show and brings together a selection of art works exploring movement, sound and place, alongside examples of public commissions.

A special new artwork, ‘Pea Run’, marks the history of the Hub and is a timely celebration as the centre undergoes its latest transformation.

The new ground floor gallery space opened with NCCD Art Club. Shining a spotlight on the work that the Centre has delivered during lockdown, the exhibition celebrates how people have used creativity to respond, recover and look ahead to a new world.

Both exhibitions run until this month (September).

Funding from Active Lincolnshire and Sport England has meant the Hub can launch three new health and wellbeing programmes over the coming months that will be free to people living across Lincolnshire.

From mid-June, the Hub Dance team has extended its video programme of Dance for Parkinson’s classes, which have already enjoyed huge success since the pandemic forced in-person classes to cease last March.

The new six-video series will allow people living with Parkinson’s, their families and carers the opportunity to take part in sessions that have been demonstrated to help improve posture, strength, coordination and balance.

“Although opportunities for real-life sessions are now beginning to re-open, many people don’t yet feel comfortable returning to a class setting and therefore we felt it was important to provide an at-home alternative so that people still had the opportunity to participate in these beneficial exercises,” said Rebecca Cram, dance development officer at the Hub.

The funding, totalling just under £9,000 has been awarded as part of the Tackling Inequalities fund and is aimed at getting individuals and communities active again following the challenges faced during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Alongside the Hub, dozens of organisations and groups across the county will benefit from this funding and will run numerous other projects and activities for people across the county to help Lincolnshire get more active.

Sleaford is to hold its second Town Crier contest, after having to postpone the event from last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The event, hosted by Sleaford’s own Town Crier, John Griffiths, will take place on Saturday 4th September and will welcome criers from all over the country to battle it out in the Market Place from 11am.

The 12 competitors will gather at Sleaford Town Hall at 10am before parading through the town at 10.40am to the Market Place.

The event was first held in the town in 2019 and this time will be joined by the Sleaford Farmers’ Market traders, to make it a great day out and a public spectacle to enjoy.

Mr Griffiths said: “The competition itself will consist of two rounds – the Home Cry is in the morning from 11am, after which we will break for lunch, and the Theme Cry will commence from 2pm followed by prize giving.”

The Home Cry allows the criers to shout about their home towns.

The Theme Cry will challenge the criers to research, write and shout about a topic of Mr Griffiths’ choosing.

A panel of three judges will score the contestants on volume, clarity, content, accuracy in sticking to their scripts, bearing and manner. There are also awards for best dressed crier, best dressed couple, best dressed ambassador and best crier’s consort.

Mr Griffiths, who has been a crier for six years, said: “When I have been to other contests they have been really big. You always gather a crowd as it is a colourful spectacle and a bit of a festival. You have people around watching and cheering as the criers are such characters and fun.

“As criers we enjoy it and have a laugh, encouraging each other.”

Mr Griffiths carried out cries from his front garden during lockdown last year as part of the Clap for Carers.
If the event goes well, Mr Griffiths hopes to repeat it and eventually host the British Championships.

Renowned for its quality service and food for the past 30 years, The Carre Arms Hotel and Restaurant in Mareham Lane, Sleaford, is a friendly, family owned and run establishment.

The hotel features 13 well-equipped ensuite bedrooms with original features while also offering guests an award-winning breakfast, well stocked bar and the chance to sample the modern English and Mediterranean menu in the beautiful Victorian glass covered conservatory, Brasserie restaurant and outside terrace.

“Our kitchen serves both lunch and dinner every day, and wherever possible, we source our ingredients locally for quality, freshness and seasonality, preparing dishes on site by our professional team of chefs.

“Our bars serve real ales listed in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide and fine wines from our excellently stocked cellar, which complement our brasserie and terrace menus.”

The Carre Arms Hotel is the perfect venue for wedding receptions and ceremonies and is experienced in catering for Christmas parties, celebrations and meetings.

For more information visit

Situated by the river in the heart of Sleaford, Millstream Square is an attractive retail mews featuring a selection of independent family businesses offering a diverse range of products and goods, as well as a variety of services.

Established 15 years ago, Millstream Square has proved itself as a favourite go-to place, creating a unique shopping hub for the local community to enjoy exploring.

Among the businesses you will find here are:
• Thai Sabai, the only restaurant in Sleaford offering authentic Thai cuisine, which has been established since 2007.

• Emily’s Bakehouse, a riverside café which also offers extensive outdoor seating where you can sit and enjoy coffee and a slice of homemade cake, or a light lunch.

• Gorgeous Suntan Centre, the largest salon in Sleaford, established for more than 10 years, offering the best quality vertical sun-beds and spray tanning facility.

• Lacey’s Beautician, run by a mother daughter duo, offering an extensive range of beauty treatments and accredited to provide training courses. They pride themselves on being lash specialists, as well as offering brow lamination, nails and much more.

• The Hutch Shop, Sleaford’s only tropical fish stockists, run by a husband and wife team who have a tremendous depth of knowledge and are happy to advise and help with any of your pet concerns. They also stock their own range of highly nutritious dog food.

• Souls Boutique, an independent ladieswear shop owned and run by mother and daughter team, Lucille Baker and Harriet Wells, featuring the best of British and European brands focussing on timeless, ageless classics, as well as trend-led designs.

Millstream Square also hosts its own themed artisan markets which draw shoppers from the town and surrounding villages, as well as visitors from further afield.

Here you will find a variety of local traders, as well as those from Lincoln, Nottingham and Derby, while enjoying live music and family friendly activities.

Two-times winner of Britain’s Best Butchers Shop, Simpsons is a highly regarded establishment with six stores situated in central Lincolnshire offering the best of quality locally farmed meats and produce.

For shoppers around the Sleaford area, there are two Simpsons branches – one at the Four Seasons Garden Centre on London Road, and the other on Cameron Street in Heckington. Here you will find a wide variety of premium sausages, minced meat, beef, pork, lamb and poultry, as well as delicious pre-marinated and freshly prepared oven-ready dishes. If you’re looking for new menu ideas, owner Gary Simpson’s experienced and helpful team is on hand to guide shoppers with expert advice and suggestions on best buys sourced whenever possible from local farmers and producers.

Choose from their delicious range which includes lamb rump marinated with ginger, chilli and lemon, or oven-ready grass fed Beef Wellington with layers of chicken liver pâté, mushroom duxelle and wrapped in puff pastry, which is handmade with no artificial colours or flavour enhancers – ideal as a luxurious centrepiece for any table.

Contact Simpsons Heckington, tel: 01529 460403, Simpsons Sleaford tel: 01529 414505 or visit

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: apply, please email your submission as a PDF document to ... See MoreSee Less