Dean Baker of Hanbeck Properties owns the Millstream Square development off Southgate which he built in 2006 and is proposing to install three timber retail kiosks within the wider part of the precinct to open on a seasonal basis from April to December serving artisan producers and promoting retailers who want a stepping stone to having their own shop premises.
The wooden booths would be for retail and hot food takeaway uses. Prior to the pandemic, the square had been hosting quarterly ‘artisan’ markets.
Mr Baker says these events were growing in appeal attracting good levels of footfall and providing an ideal location for local cottage industry producers making things such as jams, greetings cards or speciality teas and coffees to showcase their various food products and craft/gift ware.
The small kiosks would be rented by the more established producers who are looking for a more frequent pitch, perhaps once or twice a month, to promote their wares. Mr Baker said: “They don’t want the commitment of high street premises and all the costs that go with it. It is a stepping stone to build a customer base.”
If he gets planning permission from North Kesteven District Council he felt it would enhance the riverside area and increase footfall for the surrounding shops and wider town centre.
By having a rotation of tenants in the kiosks, he said it would make it an ‘exciting ‘ for customers, encouraging some that have been more cautious since the pandemic to return.
“Hopefully those customers will stay in town and go for lunch or a coffee and cake. It is about trying to get people back into Sleaford ” he said. “We are doing what we can to stimulate footfall and expand the retail offering. A year ago we were all locked down and told to shop local and that message has hit home. People want to support local business and independents who are more likely to go above and beyond, with an eye for detail and customer service.”
Mr Baker wanted to help re-start the fortunes of those established businesses, insisting none of the kiosk traders would be allowed to compete with established businesses in the precinct, saying:“We are looking to work with Emily’s Bakehouse to extend and offer even more outside seating space for them as it has become so important since the pandemic.”
There had been some concern that one of the kiosks were planned to be blocking a shop window of The Hutch Shop, but after discussion Mr Baker added: “It would seem with a bit of jiggling around we’re able to alleviate concerns from the Hutch Shop and at the same time increase the outside seating area for Emily’s Bakehouse – looks like a double win providing planners agree with the economic merit of the scheme.”
The first artisan market of the year will be on Saturday, July 3.
Kay Bonnell of Emily’s Bakehouse was positive about the scheme: “Hopefully they will not only provide opportunities for other retailers but also potentially bring more custom to the square.”
Emma Triassi, who runs Gorgeous Suntan Centre was less convinced: “Personally I think having these timber kiosks will make the square look too cluttered.”