'Unknown gem' on Sleaford river to become public park
An overgrown Sleaford garden will be opened up into a riverside haven after councillors said it was a “travesty” that it had been walled off for so long.
The private garden on Southgate will be turned into a quiet refuge in the town centre.
It was described as an “unknown gem in the conservation area” as councillors unanimously backed the plans.
Two holes would be knocked through the wall to allow access, with the possibility of a café and seating areas in the future.
The thoroughfare would connect Money’s Yard car park and a footpath along the River Slea.
Council Leader Richard Wright (Conservative) told North Kesteven’s planning committee that it would make a dramatic difference to the town centre.
“It is really important that we open up this site. The attractive riverside location is completely walled off and can’t be seen, which is a travesty,” he said.
“This will be a quiet place off the high street that people can go for a few minutes at lunchtime, offering respite from busy Southgate. Once it is landscaped and opened up onto to the river, it will be such an enhancement.”
He added that the council would work with police so it didn’t become an unsafe place in the evenings.
Councillor Robert Oates (NK Independents) also backed the plans, saying: “This is publicly-owned land and building – we have a duty to maximise the public benefits.
“The consultations which have taken place around the Sleaford Masterplan and Heart of Sleaford show the demand for new public spaces.”
Councillor Melody Shanahan-Kluth (Conservative) said she had “lost count of the times I have wondered what was over that wall, it has always fascinated me.”
The planning committee heard that there had been an objection from a resident who was concerned the park would overlook their property.
However, the planning officer said the impact would be limited.
The full details of the park would be confirmed in a future application. Artists’ sketches envision the space as a park with winding paths, benches and trees.
The neighbouring house, which is also owned by the council, will remain unchanged.