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Words: Glynis fox
Photography: Mick Fox
Featured in the October 2019 issue

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There’s a real buzz around the town, finds Glynis Fox, with the news that it has been named one of 50 “additional” destinations to benefit from the government’s £1 billion future High Streets Fund and a leisure and tourism offer that continues to draw in crowds.

If you haven’t visited the town for a while, then you are certainly going to spot changes on the retail and eating out front, and a lively markets scene – where there’s even a move to add music on a regular basis.

There is also a new Savoy Cinema – a welcome addition to the town and one that has received a warm welcome from cinema-goers.

It is also clear from the latest tourism figures that this vibrant destination – well-known as the birthplace of former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher and the place where Isaac Newton went to school, is enjoying a boom in tourism too.

And why not, because there are also plenty of other attractions within a few miles of the town.

The shortlisting for high street funding means that Grantham has joined other successful areas already shortlisted to develop plans to reinvent their street scene.

Funding could be used to improve transport and access into the town, convert empty retail units into new homes and workplaces and invest in other vital infrastructure projects.

The bid was a collaboration put forward by InvestSK (who led the production) and South Kesteven District Council (SKDC). It was submitted in March.

InvestSK CEO, Steve Bowyer said: “The bid we created with the Council has the heart of Grantham at its very core. It’s designed around our shared vision to create a ‘living town’ and will generate a better experience for all.”

Mr Bowyer said it would boost the town’s vibrancy through culture, leisure, retail and events, fill vacant units and increase town centre living, as well as improve movement around the town through investing in Grantham’s streets, spaces and infrastructure – overall boosting the economy and creating a better quality of life.

Councillor Helen Goral, SKDC Cabinet Member for Growth, said: “Grantham is unique. It has an abundance of heritage, excellent location and transport links, and most importantly a willingness and drive to embrace positive changes that will benefit the town and the surrounding area.

“However, the town also faces the all too familiar challenges of a change in shopping habits and the resulting impact on our high street, a higher demand for housing due to an ever-increasing population, and economic pressures due to the rising cost of living.

“Which is why we are setting the bar high, working hard with businesses and investors to bring major growth into the town centre, creating a living town that combines business, retail, leisure and activity to alter the way people see, think and feel about Grantham.

“Our ambition to regenerate the town centre, creating a vibrant focal point that offers something for residents and visitors alike, has just received a welcome boost with Grantham being shortlisted for a share of the Government’s £1bn Future High Streets Fund.

“Our new state-of-the-art Savoy Cinema is already a hit with filmgoers. The opening in July was crucially important for the town and ticket sales have exceeded all expectations.”

After opening its doors, The Savoy attracted about 22,000 visitors in its first four weeks of trading. The site sits adjacent to South Kesteven District Council’s headquarters and Welham Street Car Park and is expected to attract 275,000 visitors a year.

It is also the base for a new University of Lincoln campus to help meet demand for skilled workers in our local economy.

There are also two prime A3 units (authorised for the sale of food or drink for consumption on the premises or of hot food to take off the premises) for letting within the cinema complex. Both are about 3,000 sq ft in size and InvestSK is taking interest from potential operators.

“Invest SK’s recent economic intelligence report, which cites Office for National Statistics data named South Kesteven as the perfect place to grow a business. We have a growing and diverse economy and investors can see that we are very much open for business and ready to welcome firms starting up, expanding, or relocating here,” said Coun Goral.

But growth is about more than just business. It is about housing for all – individuals, growing families, couples and those looking to enjoy the later years in life.

“Where we live is a fundamental part of our wellbeing. The location and quality of our homes, how easy it is to access a high quality education for our children, and the provision of local services and amenities, all form the basis for the quality and standard of living we enjoy.

“That is why our approach is holistic and sustainable, making the most of what the town and the area has to offer in terms of thriving urban living combined with beautiful rural countryside, fabulous schools, a skilled workforce and those oh so important rail and road links. Our message is Grantham is growing, please come and join us.”

Stand out from the crowd with bespoke and vintage jewellery
If you are looking for a piece of jewellery which is unique and different from the high street collections, pay a visit to MD Jewellers of Grantham.

“We are a very diverse company,” said owner James Rudge, “as we offer bespoke designs that are one-off creations as well as our pre-owned and vintage jewellery collections so there are rarely two items the same within our shop.

“I think this is what brings our clients back to us on a regular basis as they don’t want to miss out on anything.”

James and his team aim to cover all corners of jewellery, while maintaining high standards for quality and service; something which keeps them on top of their game.

“We are an independently owned retail jewellers that also offers a jewellery repair service, bespoke jewellery design and remodelling services. If you are looking for a special piece for a seasonal, birthday or anniversary gift we have many beautiful items from which to choose or we can help you design a bespoke piece to suit your taste and budget.”

For more information contact: MD Jewellers, 56 Welby Street, Grantham NG31 6EA, Tel: 01476 591762, www.mdjewellers.co.uk

Opening times: Monday to Saturday 9am-5pm

Parking pluses

Extra parking places are due to be created at two of South Kesteven District Council’s popular public parks in the town.

As we went to press, we learned that that the council had responded to a user survey and decided to come up with extra spaces for visitors to its award-winning Wyndham Park.

Twenty-five additional spaces have been promised, through the extension of the existing car park and the work should have been completed by the time you read this.

SKDC Cabinet Member for Commercial Operations, Councillor Peter Moseley said: “Providing these extra spaces will make visitor parking easier and will also help to reduce on-street parking on nearby streets.”

In another positive move, a new 30-space car park is to be created at the access to Queen Elizabeth Park from Belton Lane.

Work is part of a project to upgrade the whole park.

Theming your Christmas
One of the most exciting aspects of Christmas is having the opportunity to completely transform a corner of your home, perhaps your lounge with a feature fireplace, the hallway with a towering Christmas tree or the dining table with co-ordinating colour palette for tableware, crockery and candles.

At Oldrids & Downtown the buying teams start their search for the perfect Christmas themes in January, so with this winter wonderland of colour, style and glitter at their fingertips what looks do the experts select for us to choose from?

Winter this year sees the launch of the movie Frozen 2, so ice is a major theme for decorative effects. In the Downtown Grantham Garden Centre Christmas Shop, Ice Adventure with its pale blue shade, icicle drops and frost, incorporates winter animals such as polar bears, penguins and owls.

Country Christmas has a really rural, cosy feel incorporating wildlife such as stags, geese and pheasants. The traditional colours of red, green and gold are strong in this theme, but with a more modern matt finish – this is the perfect look for country homes.

Whereas candy pink, mixed alongside blush pinks and winter whites, are the beautiful shades within Crystal Ball. Clear baubles and feathers, swans and fairies, create a real fantasy feel in this stylish range, which possibly lends itself to a more contemporary room.

For earth lovers Embrace Nature is a strong colour palette combining varying tones of rosewood and brown, mustard and a new eucalyptus colour.

And for those looking for a really dramatic Christmas look, new for 2019 is Red Velvet: a really rich and indulgent mix of royal purple, moss green, velvet pink and oxblood with a colourful mix of floral, velvet baubles and vibrant animal prints. So the choices are pretty endless – to see all the ranges side by side, visit the huge Christmas shop at the Downtown Garden Centre – near Grantham just off the A1.

Delivering the freshest bread
There is nothing which compares to the taste and goodness of freshly made bread and Bloomsbury Bakery in Grantham produces a wide range of traditional and speciality loaves as well as pastries and delicious cakes. The family owned business is run by Nick and Sam Markiewicz with a team of dedicated bakers who make an early start each day to supply their retail shop in Inner Street as well as fulfil the deliveries to wholesale and regular customers.

“We offer wholesale delivery for businesses and events,” explained Nick. “If orders are made before 4pm we can make a delivery of fresh produce for you the next day.”

The shop, meanwhile, is busy with customers who appreciate the freshness and quality of the Bloomsbury Bakery’s bread and baked goods. “We pride ourselves on traditional service and outstanding quality. There is our own recipe Plum Bread and sourdough as well as delicious treats such as brownies and Danish pastries. With the festive period approaching talk to us about ordering Christmas cakes and other seasonal favourites.”

Bloomsbury Bakery Grantham, Unit 5-7 Inner Street, Grantham NG31 6HN, Tel: 01476 569492, Email: nick@bloomsburybakery.co.uk, Facebook: Bloomsbury Bakery Grantham

Shop opening hours: Tue to Fri 7am-1pm, Sat 7am-12pm

Tourism on the increase
Grantham and tourist attractions in areas around the town helped South Kesteven district to attract 3.38 million visitors in 2018 – a rise of three per cent on the 2016 figure of 3.282m.

The upbeat news means that the total economic value of the visitor economy rose to £188m in 2018 (20 per cent up from £168m in 2016). Visitors also supported 2,700 full-time equivalent jobs in 2018, compared with 2,500, in 2016 (up eight per cent).

The figures are revealed in a STEAM economic impact report (published for InvestSK and South Kesteven District Council by Global Tourism Solutions).

InvestSK is South Kesteven District Council’s economic development and regeneration company. It began working to develop South Kesteven’s visitor economy in October 2017 and the fruits of its labours are now becoming clear.

Among the initiatives InvestSK has introduced are a video screen in Grantham railway station ticket office, a new visitor centre at Downtown near Grantham, a promotional trailer and pop-up marquee which is taken to events around South Kesteven and further afield, an aviation heritage programme, new social media channels and a new website – www.discoversouthkesteven.com.

In 2016 visitors stayed in the area for 2.8 nights on average and spent £13.67 million. In 2018 they stayed in the area for 2.7 nights on average but spent £16.5 million.

And there has been a significant increase – over 15 per cent in the last year – in visitors staying in serviced accommodation such as hotels and B&Bs as opposed to self-catering accommodation.

InvestSK Head of Visitor Economy, Andrew Norman said: “We have a very positive story to tell about how our visitor economy is growing and strengthening.

“Two years ago the data was going in the wrong direction but the combined effort of all our projects has helped the visitor economy in South Kesteven to turn the corner.

“We’re working actively with everyone involved at any level in the visitor economy in the district and also more widely with the likes of Visit Britain, Discover Rutland and Visit Lincoln to get South Kesteven on the map.”

Grantham itself is well-known as the birthplace of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, scientist Isaac Newton was born at nearby Woolsthorpe and Grimsthorpe Castle, Belton House and Belvoir Castle are within easy driving distance of the town.

Musical market
Shoppers visiting Grantham’s popular Saturday market can look forward to an extra treat in the future.

InvestSK, which is South Kesteven District Council’s economic growth and regeneration company, wants to see live music becoming a regular feature of the market.

And InvestSK chief executive, Steve Bowyer said this move has created an opportunity for local bands, singers and musical groups who would love to perform on the first Saturday of every month.

“We want our markets to offer more than just a great shopping opportunity so we’ve trialled various performances to see how they’re received by local residents. We’re now introducing a regular live music and entertainment feature in Grantham to attract more shoppers and make the market much more of an event.”

Grantham market takes place every Saturday on Westgate and the Market Place, from 8.30am to 4pm.

Musicians, musical groups and singers interested in performing at the market, should contact InvestSK’s Head of Town Centres Paul Allen by email at: paul.allen@investsk.co.uk

Stag-geringly good ales and food
Experience the warmest hospitality and the very best in locally sourced food at The Stag at Barkston. The Loveridge family run their traditional country pub, The Stag, in the heart of the local community. Their talented head chef, Josh Dedham, is supported by chef/landlord Mike Loveridge who has over 30 years’ experience in the hospitality industry.

With front of house manager Ben Stanley their focus has been to serve award-winning ales along with the best in freshly prepared dishes using the finest locally sourced ingredients.

“We all share a passion to consistently deliver a high standard of food and service with warmth,” said Mike, “to our local customers and also those who travel here to enjoy our seasonal menus.”

The Stag is open Tuesday to Sunday and hosts popular events such as the Quiz Night which is held on the first Tuesday of the month (excluding January).

Bookings are now being taken for Christmas with menus for festive dining during December, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The Stag is perfect for a family, friends or business celebration get-together.

You can find details of these menus and others at: www.thestagbarkston.co.uk or call 01400 250363 to book.

Contemporary comforts
We cameupon a hidden gem, just off the A607 outside Grantham, at Honington Grange where the Coney family have developed some of the most luxurious self-catering cottages in Lincolnshire in a stunning Ancaster stone courtyard.

On their working farm old stone barns and farm buildings have been tastefully converted to the most up to date design, building and environmental standards to provide a warm welcome.

Named after apple varieties: Pippin, Bramley and Discovery there are three luxurious 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom cottages plus nearby April Cottage with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms providing boutique hotel style accommodation with all the comfort and flexibility of self-catering for visitors.

The cottages are packed with contemporary comforts like underfloor heating, leather sofas, fur throws and tartan furnishings, flat screen TVs, Wi-Fi, fully equipped kitchens, hotel quality bathrooms, laundry facilities, with white crockery, stylish cutlery and modern glassware, large patio doors opening onto private patios and lovely garden and courtyard views – ensuring a stylish home from home. We gather many visitors are coming back four or five times already!

Across the peaceful courtyard, two inspiring meeting rooms provide a great setting for daytime business meetings, with the oak-trusses of the conference room and the modern glass-walled boardroom connected by the reception atrium.

Cottages available weekly: short breaks and longer lets for business or to bridge between house purchases are possible by arrangement.

www.honingtongrange.co.uk, please call Tracey or Wendy at Honington Grange on 01400 259429 for availability and bookings.

Grantham Specsavers focus on eye health
Unless your vision has changed, you might not give your eyes much thought when it comes to how you’re feeling. But your eyes can actually reveal a lot about your general health, even if they don’t feel any different. That’s why Grantham Specsavers is keen to highlight the importance of having your eyes tested regularly.

“Many conditions have few or even no noticeable symptoms in the early stages,” explains Colin Ducker, store director at Specsavers Grantham. “With regular eye tests, we can use the latest technology to help identify and monitor a whole host of issues, including macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, diabetes, and even brain tumours.”

Specsavers recommends that you have an eye test every two years, or sooner if you notice any changes.

For more information visit Specsavers in the Isaac Newton Centre, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG31 6EE, call 01476 572111 or go to www.specsavers.co.uk/stores/Grantham

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