Timescale for Sleaford Market Place revamp revealed after Town Council loses legal challenge

Sleaford Town Council has had its application for a Judicial Review of plans to revamp the town’s market place rejected.
The timescale of works for the proposed revamp of Sleaford Market Place has been unveiled.The timescale of works for the proposed revamp of Sleaford Market Place has been unveiled.
The timescale of works for the proposed revamp of Sleaford Market Place has been unveiled.

The council had applied to the courts for permission to hold a Judicial Review but was refused.

The council considered the judge’s comments and reasoning at their meeting on April 2 and decided not to pursue it further due to a declining chance of success and a rising chance of incurring more costs.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In an official statement the Town Council said: “Sleaford Town Council is opposed to North Kesteven District Council’s plans for the Market Place as we do not believe that they are in the best interests of the town. We objected to NKDC’s planning application and spoke against it at meetings of the NKDC Planning Committee which considered it.

“Following NKDC’s approval of the application at the Planning Committee meeting on January 16 we took legal advice and based on that advice we applied to the courts for permission to apply for judicial review of NKDC’s planning permission decision. That was considered by the court on March 25 and unfortunately our application was refused. At a meeting of the Town Council on April 2 we considered the decision of the court and resolved not to pursue the judicial review route any further on the basis that we were unlikely to succeed, and given the potential legal costs of further action.

“We still hope to arrive at an agreement with North Kesteven District Council over the future of the Market Place which would address at least some of the concerns raised by ourselves and many other members of the public.”

Mayor Coun Anthony Brand echoed the clerk’s explanation: “There are stages and the first is that a high court judge examines the material from both sides and decides if there is merit in going forward. In this case it was rejected. The Town Council met to discuss the outcome and further advice from our solicitors.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"While we were obviously disappointed we decided not to continue through appealing the decision. This was based upon the solicitors’ opinion about limited and reduced success plus the financial implications. We did resolve to continue working with NKDC in a positive fashion for the benefit of all linked to the functioning and use of the Market Place.”

The council still hopes to negotiate with North Kesteven District Council officials to find agreements on some of its concerns about the plans which include a proposed pedestrianisation of the Market Place with limited space for disabled parking for church visitors, raised planters, extra seating and new lighting to enhance the features of the area.

NKDC has also now begun to consult key stakeholders with an initial timeframe for the approved works to be carried out on Sleaford Market Place which would see around £1million of UK Shared Prosperity Fund money spent to create what the authority describes as a more “welcoming space for people in the centre of Sleaford”.

The plan is that it will cease use as a car park in mid-July, with a yet to be confirmed date of Friday July 19 pencilled in, subject to change.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Onsite preparations and assessments will then take place, before ground works begin at the end of July, continuing through until mid-December.

Key stakeholders including businesses on the Market Place are being notified of these dates and the council said that discussions will continue on “operational matters” including business needs during the works.

It means the Armed Forces Day flag raising ceremony will still go ahead in the Market Place on June 24.

NKDC Chief Executive Ian Fytche said: “We’re focusing on getting the final arrangements for the scheme in place, including the preparation of the detailed technical designs and discharging planning conditions before the main works can begin, as well as continuing our detailed discussions with the town council and partners on this initial timeframe for the works and related operational matters.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We’re committed to ensuring that the Market Place scheme delivers on its objectives and benefits Sleaford, using Government funding to invest directly in the town centre and create a welcoming and flexible space for people and events while also helping to reveal and enhance the heritage of Market Place. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in advance for their understanding and patience when work commences.”

The works will be delivered in a number of planned phases – each focusing on a specific area in turn – as part of efforts to minimise disruption. This includes maintaining as much pedestrian access as possible through its various stages, says the council.

The market will still need to move to a temporary location for the duration of the works so that it can continue to operate as it needs, which would not be possible on Market Place during the works as they take place. Sleaford Town Council operates the market under licence.

The Town Council had already agreed a contingency plan for where the town’s market traders would go temporarily if the scheme went ahead. This is planned to be in Eastgate car park, which is owned by the Town Council. However, at the Town Council’s meeting on Wednesday evening, members agreed to ask if NKDC would allow the market to be located in Money’s Yard to keep it in a more central and easily accessible position. If that is not possible they will revert to the previous plan.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The scheme will see block paving across the Market Place replaced with lighter sandstone setts which the district council says will better reflect the character of the area and its historic features including the war memorial and St Denys' Church.

There will be two raised planters in additions to hardwood benches and the market place hut will be demolished. New lighting under the trees and at the war memorial will also be installed, provision for power supply will be retained, and a new information board will tie in with phase one of the new wayfinding signage in Sleaford.

The district council said time-limited Blue Badge parking will be available within set times during three days of the week, which recognises the need for access while still opening up the space fully on weekends and market days for people to eat, shop and spend more time enjoying the area and events, without conflict with moving cars as is the case currently.