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Grantham traders promised better communication from Lincolnshire County Council on Market Place project amid dispute with South Kesteven District Council





Traders and residents have been promised they will be kept up to speed on a major town development — as councils continue to squabble over the project.

Lincolnshire County Council said it wanted to 'set the record straight' about the £4.1 million Grantham Market Place project, which includes removing parking, installing a natural stone surface, and creating a single-level event space.

The authority has received 'countless queries' since work began, with highways executive Richard Davies (Con) noting most were 'anything but positive'.

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

Initially, the county council says it left communications to South Kesteven District Council (SKDC) as the scheme promoter, but it will now take over to keep businesses and residents informed.

“Businesses and local people still feel in the dark about the works, so the county council will now be taking control of keeping people informed,” said Coun Davies.

“Starting in early June, we’ll be publishing a monthly progress update on our website with information about recent achievements, upcoming works, and any changes to traffic management.”

Coun Richard Davies
Coun Richard Davies

Additionally, they have appointed a dedicated public liaison officer, Joanne Plews, to handle all construction-related queries and arrangements.

Coun Davies reiterated that SKDC leads the project, despite county advice against carrying it out in the first place.

He wanted to stress that the county's role was solely as a delivery partner, chosen by SKDC to handle the technical aspects.

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

While they may not see eye to eye with SKDC on the project's specifics, Coun Davies said LCC remains committed to ensuring that the Future High Street Fund money allocated to SKDC is spent in accordance with their bid to central Government, to avoid any funds being returned.

The project is set to take 22 weeks, down from five months, with hopes to finish by mid-August.

He acknowledged the necessity of a full closure of Market Place, Narrow Westgate, and Conduit Lane for the safe execution of the project, prioritising the safety of workers and the public.

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

However, he expressed disappointment in what he sees as SKDC’s lack of prior engagement with local businesses.

“This would have provided valuable insight into how the proposed plans would affect their trade. We also hoped more information would have been shared with businesses earlier so they could better prepare for the disruption caused by construction,” he said.

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

Coun Davies, along with other councillors, has previously advocated for rate reductions or relief for affected businesses to alleviate economic hardships. Others have called for a £50,000 hardship fund to be created.

LCC promised better signage and access for businesses during the works.

Another question Coun Davies addressed was about staff numbers — a gripe from the public. He said increasing the number of construction workers on-site would not quicken up the project because the site is small and the work must be done in a specific sequence.

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

“More staff at this stage would be a waste of money and would no doubt lead to people asking why we have workers standing around without anything to do,” he said.

SKDC leaders have previously stated that the works are part of a broader initiative aimed at revitalising Grantham’s town centre.

They have promised to work with LCC and contractor Taylor Woodrow to ensure timely completion while minimising disruptions to businesses.

However, they have said it’s too early to say what impact there will be.

The council has advised businesses themselves to demonstrate to the Valuation Office Agency what impact there has been on their premises and bid for temporary reductions in their rateable values.

“Local councillors in Grantham have, quite understandably, asked if it is possible to offer financial compensation to businesses if they can demonstrate that the ongoing works have had a severe financial impact on their trade,” said leader Coun Ashley Baxter (Ind) previously.

“Such options are limited but businesses could approach the Valuation Office Agency for a temporary reduction in their rateable value for the duration of the roadworks.”

Despite disruptions, they reassured that most businesses, including stallholders, continue trading, with available parking options for shoppers.

An agenda item is being included in Thursday’s Annual General Meeting of SKDC to further discuss the works and their impact.

The meeting begins at 2pm and will include “possible interventions to encourage footfall and support businesses” such as the use of budgets, reserves, or some of the UK Shared Prosperity Funding (UKSPF) — through which the works are already paid.

South Kesteven District Council leader Ashley Baxter
South Kesteven District Council leader Ashley Baxter

SKDC leader Councillor Ashley Baxter (Ind) said the meeting would address the level of interest in the works and would provide an opportunity for councillors to suggest ideas and measures to mitigate the problems as well as exploit the new opportunities the refurbished marketplace would offer.

However, he added: “SKDC has no powers to reduce business rates and businesses should approach the Valuation Office Agency if they wish to apply for a temporary reduction in their rateable value for the duration of the roadworks.”

Traders with queries about the work should contact Joanne Plews at 07768 940187 or via joanne.plews@taylorwoodrow.com.



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