Sleaford market place plans move forward despite ongoing opposition
During a North Kesteven District Council Planning Committee meeting on Tuesday, revisions were discussed regarding a proposal to incorporate permanent disabled parking spaces in the Market Place which is planned to be pedestrianised.
The overall principle of £1 million redevelopment of the space overlooked by St Denys’ Church, to include flowerbeds and outdoor seating had already been accepted in a prior meeting. Officers noted that the recent revisions and reasons for the December deferral were the “sole remaining issue.”
In the past week, a petition from residents opposing the plans, which has garnered nearly 1,000 signatures in just two weeks, was submitted to NKDC. This petition is scheduled to be discussed at the next Full Council meeting on January 25.
Labelled “the pink petition”, it follows another petition which amassed over 1,700 signatures from local residents, but that was done outside of NKDC channels, so could not be presented to trigger council debates.
In the updated plans, the council proposed eight disabled parking spots, specifying their use for up to two hours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
However, Councillor Marianne Overton (Lincolnshire Independent) criticised the “limited” availability of the proposed parking, deeming it insufficient.
“There are no permanent disabled parking spaces on the market, so this has not met the reason why it [the application] has been brought back,” she said.
“I do appreciate that efforts have been made, but it does not provide what we asked for and that is disabled parking that is adequate.”
Consequently, the Leader of the Lincolnshire Independents suggested rejecting the proposed changes, a motion seconded by Councillor Linda Edwards-Shea (Labour), who highlighted the absence of any swept path analysis for vehicles entering and leaving the spaces in a pedestrian area.
Four members voted in favour and four against the proposal, leading to Chairman Councillor Lance Pennell (Conservative) casting the deciding vote, which was also against.
Following the vote, Councillor Edwards-Shea responded: “I still maintain that this is not safe. There probably is a solution, I just think we haven’t found it yet.”
While officers advised against deferring the application for a third time, the councillors chose to vote on approving the changes. This resulted in another tie, prompting Councillor Pennell to cast his deciding vote, ultimately advancing the project.
The decision provoked strong reactions from the public, with members in the gallery shouting “shame on you” and heckling the council.
Anthony Henson, the creator of the “pink petition”, reflected on Tuesday’s meeting, saying: “The voting was very clearly Conservative against the rest of the world.”
The campaigner later expressed relief that the proposal wasn’t deferred for a third time. He noted that this outcome now allows him and others to freely discuss the issue with members of the Planning Committee.
Mr Henson remains firm in his belief that the redevelopment will cause a ‘catastrophic failure’ for businesses in the town centre, adding: “I wouldn’t put any money into North Kesteven.”