Sunday 23rd September 2018
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Words: Melanie Burton
Photography: Mick Fox
Featured in the September 2018 issue

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Revival is the key word for the historic south Lincolnshire market town this year, finds Melanie Burton,  with major investment, regeneration plans and improved leisure facilities all on the cards.

Plans to revitalise the Heart of Sleaford have been given the go-ahead which could see the provision of a cinema and associated areas of public space including a pedestrian footbridge over the River Slea connecting Money’s Yard to the picturesque Market Place.

North Kesteven District Council has approved the purchase of a 99-year lease for land to develop the cinema and public realm.Around £1.5 million could be invested from the council’s capital programme for the plans.

Leader of the council, Councillor Richard Wright, said: “This is an important milestone in the redevelopment of the town centre. We’ve been working hard on the regeneration of Sleaford for some time with partners and other organisations who are all committed to seeing the town thrive and survive.

“One of the key aspects picked up on when the masterplan for the town was created was the need to give residents more of a reason to spend their money in Sleaford rather than going elsewhere.

“The Heart of Sleaford project would not only do this, but also attract visitors from further afield as well, boosting the local economy and supporting local businesses.”

This is the latest in a number of investments in the town by NKDC. In 2012, around £3 million was spent on upgrading and improving the facilities at Sleaford Leisure Centre; in 2015 works got under way on the £8.65 million regeneration of Newfield Road; in 2016 the new Grantham Road car park, designed for shoppers and commuters alike, opened; and in 2017 the authority spent £1.7 million on the purchase of Sleaford Moor Enterprise Park, with masterplans for the site currently being drawn up. A 10-year investment programme is under way in support of the local authority’s vision for flourishing communities. The investment is across five priority areas – homes, communities, economy, council and the environment – and is helping to create jobs, build homes, provide infrastructure, secure public services and create better leisure opportunities.

It includes the regeneration of Newfield Road in the town where 63 homes are being completely revamped and reconfigured and 18 new properties built revitalising a whole community and ensuring their homes are safe, secure and warm for many years to come.

The £3.6 million refurbishment of ONE NK, featuring the country’s first interactive selfie flume, saw visitor numbers rise above one million in its first year.

Funding has also been allocated towards accelerating the delivery of the Sleaford West Sustainable Urban Extension (SUE) which is one of the key sites for growth identified in the Central Lincolnshire local plan. The development includes 1,400 homes, a community centre, two schools, a pub, a 40-bed hotel and a health centre.

Sleaford has historically constituted an important part of Lincolnshire’s trade. It has been a market town since the early twelfth century and today its market is held on the picturesque Market Place alongside St Denys’ Church. According to a 2010 council report, the public sector was the town’s main employer, along with agriculture and manufacturing. Unemployment was lower than the national average as were wages, reflecting pay in the food processing and agricultural industries.

At the 2011 Census, the largest group of working-age persons by economic activity were those in full-time employment, who made up 43.8 per cent of this section of the population, while 15 per cent were part-time employees, 7.7 per cent were self-employed and 15 per cent of the working-age population were retired.

In 2011 North Kesteven District Council produced a 25-year strategy to regenerate the town because its rapid growth since the 1990s had outgrown improvements to its infrastructure. Its plans included future residential developments and reverting parts of the one-way system, developing southern Southgate and turning Money’s Yard into an attraction to link with the National Centre for Craft and Design.

The National Centre for Craft & Design is the largest venue in England entirely dedicated to the promotion and support of national and international contemporary craft and design. Under one roof, five gallery spaces showcase up to twenty world-class exhibitions every year from the most innovative, challenging and accomplished artists to new and emerging talent.

A stimulating learning programme inspires people of all ages, skills and interest levels and the centre’s shop is a cultural haven for the latest contemporary handmade products.

It is also home to Design-Nation, one of the UK’s leading professional development organisations for British designer-makers and artsNK, the country’s largest rural arts development agency that specialises in visual and performing arts projects.

“People are at the heart of everything the NCCD does and cares about, from everyone who engages with its programme, the inspirational artists and volunteers who give up their time to the staff who make the centre’s events, workshops and exhibitions possible,” said marketing assistant Mark Bowery.

“Over the past year or so, NCCD has experienced its most successful period to date. Between 1st April 2017 and 31st March 2018 it has welcomed more than 113,000 visitors to the centre.”

As part of this success it has seen some hugely popular exhibitions including 3D Printing: The Good, The Bad & The Beautiful, The World is Your Dressing Up Box, Laura Ellen Bacon: Rooted in Instinct and Circus: Performers, Politics and Pop Culture. The past twelve months or so have also been a period of change for NCCD as it has forged closer links with its partner organisation artsNK which has been a key contributor in the curation of some of the centre’s exhibitions.

“This collaboration between NCCD and artsNK also saw us celebrate the opening day of our Circus exhibition with our busiest exhibition opening day ever, which saw us welcome 1,700 visitors to the centre and 150 students and families take part in a street parade around Sleaford of posters they had created with local artists,” added Mark.

“The crowd were kept entertained by performers from Rhubarb Theatre and Earthbound Misfits and the gallery was brought to life by aerial performances by Claire Crook aka Madam Mango and Rio Willett, who were also our performers in residence throughout the course of the exhibition.”

The investment programme and the improvement plans for the town are all designed to increase footfall in Sleaford and attract more visitors to visit for shopping or sightseeing. And that aim has been boosted by the plans for the future of rail services in the East Midlands revealed by the Department for Transport (DfT) which will include welcome improvements to services between Lincoln and Peterborough.

A SCHOOL WHERE EACH CHILD CAN FLOURISH
With only one intake class of around twenty-five children per year group, Our Lady of Good Counsel Primary School, Sleaford maintains a family orientated approach in a small school where every child is known.

While academic achievement is central to the core of the education for pupils with excellent outcomes achieved, the school also focuses on nurturing and developing the whole child.

Head teacher, Michelle Parker and her staff receive high levels of support from their local community. The school is within the town but in a spacious, leafy setting. Mrs Parker explained: “Both parents and the Parish are active organisers and supporters of fundraising events and activities. A recent Race Night and Family Fun Day held in July, organised by the PTA raised over £5,000. This will go towards the costs of installing our new trim trail at the school. Two parents were in training over the holidays for a 130-mile charity cycle race on 21st September which will raise further funds to provide an all-weather surface to the trail so that it can be used year round by the children.”

The school has also developed partnerships with local organisations and schools – accessing sports coaching from Carres Grammar sports outreach. Recognition of the high levels of sports engagement and achievement has been recognised by the presentation of a Sainsbury’s School Games sports award for the fourth consecutive year.

“We work closely with the Lincolnshire Music Service,” said Mrs Parker, “so that every child in Year 4 and Year 5 is able to access musical instrument instruction through whole class music lessons. This year they will be accessing world percussion, ukulele and woodwind lessons ensuring that musical talents and interests are developed. Again, we work closely with Carres and St George’s in relation to offering our pupils access to music and arts-based projects led by them.”

New for the next year, Our Lady of Good Counsel teachers will also be working with NKarts who will deliver dance lessons to our Key Stage 2 children as well as providing After School Club activities.

Parents and pupils value the school’s on-site breakfast club and after school care delivered by school staff from 7.45am to 5.45pm daily. Over the summer the school has upgraded its Early Years provision with further development of their outside area. The school now enjoys a shared EYFS and Year 1 area which supports the transition and development of the youngest children in the school.

If you are looking at options for your child for schooling in Sleaford, Mrs Parker and her team would like to invite you to a series of Open Morning and Evening events and especially for parents of children starting school in September 2019. The next Open Day will be on Thursday 4th October and you can find out more details by contacting the school: Our Lady of Good Counsel Primary School, The Drove, Sleaford NG34 7AT

Tel: 01529 304373
Mrs Michelle Parker - Head Teacher
www.our-lady.lincs.sch.uk

FOR THOSE SPECIAL PURCHASES
Moore & Scrupps Jewellers in Sleaford have been established in the town for over 20 years offering tempting ranges of traditional and contemporary jewellery, the latest styles of watches and a world of expertise.

Popular brands include Pandora, Links of London, Clogau and Ti Sento offering customers the opportunity to buy single pieces at a time to complete a matching set, or mix and match with these sterling silver brands.

They say “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”, so look no further than Moore & Scrupps for that special purchase of fine diamond rings, pendants and earrings or perhaps rubies, emeralds and sapphires would be your choice. Whatever your preference Moore & Scrupps can accommodate every taste and price range.

When choosing a watch, the ever popular Rotary, Skagen, Michel Herbelin and Radley brands are always stylish and affordable.

They also offer a comprehensive repair service for watches and jewellery, with work carried out on site wherever possible in their own workshop.

SLEAFORD IN BLOOM
Sleaford is a thriving market town with busy transport links running through it, making it difficult to create that attractive, picturesque look that visitors love. But with an enthusiastic and dedicated Sleaford in Bloom Group, it isn’t a problem.

Fifty years ago, people began to be concerned about the amount of litter (now non-degradable) and the general state of urban environments so The Keep Britain Tidy campaign was launched, soon followed by Britain in Bloom.

It was realised that improvements depended on individuals and organisations taking pride in the way their villages, towns and cities looked and in spending a bit of money on greening their buildings and their spaces.

Sleaford Town Council took the initiative to join the movement nearly twenty-five years ago. An independent committee of volunteers took over the job three years later and has been functioning successfully ever since as Sleaford in Bloom. It prides itself on its consistent achievements competing with much larger towns that have huge budgets and often parks departments going back to Victorian times.

“The judging of ‘Bloom’ is not just what the committee and the volunteers have achieved but every aspect of town life is taken into account, including other voluntary bodies, the business sector, the local authorities and schools,” explained chairman Ada Trethewey. “We punch well above our weight in the annual league tables.”

The voluntary organisation works tirelessly to make Sleaford attractive by planting flowers in the tubs, baskets and the containers that visitors and residents can see all summer. The team of dedicated volunteers plant seeds and flowers, weed and ensure all the plants are watered.

“They also fundraise to support their activities and do so because they want Sleaford to be an attractive place in which to live, work and visit,” said Ada.

“They aim to keep Sleaford looking attractive and achieve a Gold Award from the East Midlands in Bloom team when they visit each year.”

2018 saw Sleaford in Bloom take on three new areas of the town, working with many organisations and businesses to improve and enhance those areas.

Sleaford in Bloom has worked with MosArt, a community group of artists from the town and its surrounding villages, to help create and enhance a pebble mosaic which was funded by the David Trethewey Memorial Fund as part of the Rauceby Banks Project. The mosaic was officially opened by the Mayor of Sleaford, Councillor Jan Mathieson. Speeches were also given by chairman Ada Trethewey on the Rauceby Banks Project in memory of her late husband David; MosArt member Ladey Adey on the Pebble Mosaic Project and Pauline Dobson on the history of the Rauceby Banks and upper Slea.

The group ensures the areas around the mosaic and plaques are kept trim and tidy.

Sleaford in Bloom has wanted to make improvements to the Market Place for some time and this year, it was made possible through funds received from Tesco’s ‘Bags for Life’ community funding.

Six planted containers have been placed near the four trees between the old water fountain and the recently installed bus stop in the Market Place.

The third new project is the Museum Gardens which was a neglected public area outside Sleaford Museum containing one large bed and two smaller ones that complement the Dragon.

Much weeding, preparing and planting was required but it was worth it in the end.

TRADITIONAL MARKET TOWN
Sleaford is a traditional market town and has many fine buildings including the splendid 13th century church, St Denys’, renowned for its wonderful stained glass and traceried windows. The town is also home to The National Centre for Craft & Design – the UK’s largest centre dedicated to contemporary craft and design. Across three floors you’ll find exciting gallery spaces as well as an inspiring learning programme for all ages.

Across Navigation Yard is Navigation House, a refurbished original canal company office built in 1838. This Grade II listed building is thought to be the only one of its kind still in existence, has a heritage theme covering the early development of the new River Slea and portrays the story of the Navigation and its significant impact on Sleaford’s history.

You can also follow the picturesque walk along the River Slea to Cogglesford Mill, a fully restored and working 18th century watermill where milling has taken place for over a thousand years.

You can also learn more about Sleaford and its fascinating history by visiting Sleaford Museum, a unique museum situated in Monument Gardens in the heart of Sleaford.

For more information visit www.heartoflincs.com.

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