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Grantham businesses fear for future as work begins on £4.1 million Market Place regeneration scheme





There are fears that businesses could close as a result of a three-month regeneration project in Grantham Market Place.

The £4.1 million plans, led by South Kesteven District Council with support from Lincolnshire County Council, will involve removing parking areas around the Market Place and installing large areas of natural stone paving to create an open event space in the town. Work started this week.

The aim is to raise the road height of the shopping centre to create a single-level open space, able to host a regular programme of town centre events, thus re-establishing the Market Place as the heart of the town and a gathering point for residents and visitors.

Grantham Market Place. | Image: Daniel Jaines
Grantham Market Place. | Image: Daniel Jaines

However, concerns have been raised about the impact of the works on local businesses, as well as the safety of the area and the access for more vulnerable residents.

Concerns have also been raised about a lack of communication.

John Sayer, of Grantham Appliance Service, fears the diversions and road closures will hurt his business and put off customers.

The plans for Grantham Market Place.
The plans for Grantham Market Place.

His business often relies on customers unloading goods for repairs.

“If it doesn’t finish all the business off around here, nothing will,” he said.

“It’s the biggest waste of money…. We’ve got potholes all over town; they should be doing something about that instead of spending all the money on this waste of space.”

Grantham Market Place. | Image: Daniel Jaines
Grantham Market Place. | Image: Daniel Jaines

He said customers could call his shop from further away for assistance with moving goods.

However, he said that when the Market Place was refurbished in 2011, his takings were halved.

“I reckon I could close the shop. It’s bad enough now; I do a lot of repairs out of the shop in the morning. I may as well close and do that… I can’t see anybody coming down here.”

Grantham Market Place. | Image: Daniel Jaines
Grantham Market Place. | Image: Daniel Jaines

Clare Clark, from Prime Comfort, in Grantham, said she had been reassured part of the road would remain open for deliveries, pick-ups and drop-offs.

However, she was concerned that signage further down the road might deter people.

“This is our busiest time,” she said.

Grantham Market Place. | Image: Daniel Jaines
Grantham Market Place. | Image: Daniel Jaines

“We’ve been told they’re keeping the bottom end with a soft closure so you can get up and down so we want people to know they can still get here in the car,” she added.

The store’s stock includes mobility aids such as walking sticks and scooters, meaning a huge part of their customer base is people with physical disabilities.

The company also plans to carry out more home visits if necessary.

Grantham Market Place. | Image: Daniel Jaines
Grantham Market Place. | Image: Daniel Jaines

She said the improvements could 'look nice' but worried about the impacts of the closure, especially if shoppers went out of town.

“It’s literally just wait and see; I don’t think anyone really knows what’s going to happen.”

Clare Mendham, from Hair by Clares, called the work a “waste of money”, noting the issues in 2011.

Grantham Market Place. | Image: Daniel Jaines
Grantham Market Place. | Image: Daniel Jaines

“There are loads more issues in Grantham that need fixing than this bit of road,” she said.

She raised fears that disabled residents such as the blind might be impacted if the road was not clearly delineated or if temporary parking was not available nearby.

“I have disabled customers who get dropped off on the nearby corner; how are they going to be affected?”

Grantham Market Place. | Image: Daniel Jaines
Grantham Market Place. | Image: Daniel Jaines

She added that the market being shoved “right at the far end” would make the stalls look busier but “squashed”.

Customer Mick Warton expressed doubts the situation would be improved and worried about the restricted parking.

He noted existing struggles with larger supermarkets and doubted the project's benefit.

Mick reminisced on the Royal favour the market had years ago, with Princess Diana known to be spotted by locals while visiting her sister.

He said, however, that the market was now “diminished”.

“It’s got smaller and smaller,” he said and although he praised the market stall holders for doing an “excellent job”, he did not know if the latest move would improve that.

He said with developments around the town taking up valuable parking space there would not be the capacity for the market to grow.

Many raised fears over the safety of people with a road which had no separation from the pavement.

Roadworks are in place for the Market Place works in Grantham. Photo: RSM Photography
Roadworks are in place for the Market Place works in Grantham. Photo: RSM Photography

One business owner who did not wish to be named said there had already been a number of near misses with buildings due to vehicles colliding with pavements, or cars missing the traffic lights, without the improvements taking place.

They said school children in particular were of concern, particularly those riding their bikes.

The cold weather was also a concern for several businesses with some fearing slippery conditions in wet or icy conditions.

Theepashni Krishnakumen, staff member and wife of the owner of the Market Place Convenience Store, said it was good that something was happening to improve the Market Place, but she also feared the impact that closing the road off would have.

Roadworks are in place for the Market Place works in Grantham. Photo: RSM Photography
Roadworks are in place for the Market Place works in Grantham. Photo: RSM Photography

Her main concerns were the space for deliveries to local businesses and access for customers.

“I hope for three months we can survive but over time I think we’re going to lose a lot of customers because of it.”

South Kesteven District councillor and ward member Tim Harrison, who runs Autocabs Taxis out of the Market Place, said there were still a number of unanswered questions around the works.

These included the logistics of having market stalls, the health and safety of the works and what benefits the new Market Place would actually bring.

“It’s a recipe for disaster waiting to happen,” he said, about the health and safety aspects.

On the fears around business, he said: “Last time, in 2011, we lost 20-plus market stalls and five shops, I fear we’re going to do that again.”

He said he would be chasing what the Unique Selling Point and benefits of the market would be.

Not everyone was as disappointed, however. Lisa Brandreth, owner of Sisu was a little more optimistic.

“I think it’s a good thing overall,” she said.

She said a visit from Lincolnshire County Council had helped explain what was happening and where the funding was coming from.

She had some minor concerns but believed it would improve the overall appearance.

A spokesperson for South Kesteven District Council said: "The Market Place improvement builds on current projects to improve shop fronts to enhance the appeal of the town centre, and SKDC’s work to encourage more affordable housing in the town centre through upper-floor conversions.”

At a meeting of SKDC’s Finance and Economic Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday, Council leader Coun Ashley Baxter updated members on the Future High Streets Fund and promised that works would be going ahead.

He told members of the committee: “It will be some months of disruption for businesses, shoppers, residents, residents for which we apologise but we hope that the finished product will mean the ends will justify the means.”

He said information had been circulated showing areas the market would be closed off and diversion routes.

He added that works to negotiate potential contractors for further works to Station Approach were ongoing.

Coun Ben Green, however, noted the opposition to the marketplace works.

Councillor Baxter said there had been “many robust conversations” with councils.

“There's nothing wrong with differences of opinion and we can resolve them through conversation and collaboration and there doesn't have to be winners and losers.

“The options that we had [when we were elected] were to pursue a scheme which was agreed in 2019 and consulted on in 2020 and was something the previous administration wanted to get on with.

“By the time that we had it, we had the option of continuing with this which is going to enhance the marketplace and enhance Grantham town centre or handing back £1.5 million pounds to the government.”

He said he would be surprised by any suggestion of handing the money back to the government.



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