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Holbeach traders call on South Holland District Council to protect town’s conservation area





Traders are calling on council bosses to take action to protect the look of a historic town centre.

Holbeach is one of 13 conservation areas in South Holland but business owners say the current situation is a ‘joke’ with no rules governing what can be put up along the town’s High Street.

Now they are calling on South Holland District Council’s planning department to introduce and enforce rules and standards to improve the appearance of the town while also give shopkeepers a guide of what is expected.

Good and bad examples can be seen on Holbeach High Street - as traders call for standards to be introduced to protect the historic town centre
Good and bad examples can be seen on Holbeach High Street - as traders call for standards to be introduced to protect the historic town centre

Currently, there are a number of shops which have vinyl coverings, one had been painted bright orange and another has a sign which does not fit the box.

But this is not a new issue. A recommendation made in the 2008 Holbeach Parish Plan called for an appraisal of the conservation area ‘ to enable enforcement of issues around general appearance of town’.

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Richard Rickerby, who owns the historic Mansion House Hotel, fears the town is at a ‘tipping point’ and wants to see rules enforced.

Richard Rickerby, who owns the Mansion House Hotel, wants to see more rules implemented to protect Holbeach's conservation area
Richard Rickerby, who owns the Mansion House Hotel, wants to see more rules implemented to protect Holbeach's conservation area

He said: “I get that planning is supposed to be impartial but they are so lax and this is where they have got us.

“What about enforcement? And having a vision?”

“If this is a conservation area why not operate a colour scheme?

“People should have a right to expression and represent their business but where things are extreme - that is where the council should come in.

“Enforcement is crucial. We need a tool that will change things.”

As the owner of a historic building, Mr Rickerby has had to comply with various rules including colour scheme and bespoke windows.

He said: “We have been here for 17 years and if I was to change the colour they (the council) would be on my door step but when you look along the street - there are vinyls.

“We are trying to grow self catering in the high street which will bring footfall. Tourists spend four and a half times what locals spend in the high street.”

He also feels that tourism will add a lot to the town – and that Holbeach has a lot to offer.

Mr Rickerby said: “There’s a good strong affluent community coming to to the new estates and when they move to the area they need to be repaid with businesses like the Coffee Lounge, Red Lion who are doing a good job. We have a great indian and thai and the nightlife is healthy.

“If you look at towns that are doing well in Norfolk like Old Hunstanton - that is the kind of model we should be emulating.”

A Sweet and Vape shop has opened in Holbeach
A Sweet and Vape shop has opened in Holbeach

Stuart Orrey, who owns the Coffee Lounge in the High Street, has had to spend about £1,000 on change of use planning applications – which included signage.

Rules also meant that he had to install an additional toilet into his premises - which cost a further £7,500.

He said: “This is a conservation area and when you look across from us - it is a joke.”

Lisa Teague, runs Lisa’s in the High Street which will be painted this year, said the Holbeach Parish Plan was adopted by South Holland District Council and the parish council.

She said: “It would be nice to keep the town tidy and attractive and pretty much as a market town should be. For any businesses coming to the town, we would welcome them but I think they should be helped to know what is expected of them and what fits in - it is a balance.

“The town as a whole needs as much help as it can get.

“I have been here for a long time and have seen a lot of changes - it is hard.

“Holbeach has always been a nice time and has a lot to offer. We are lucky we have got what we have. It needs a future but it needs to be looked after.”

The colour of shop fronts has also been raised in nearby Stamford.

South Kesteven District Council orders Peters’ Cleaners in St Paul's Street, Stamford to be repainted because the company's choice of orange and blue paint and a vinyl window dressing ‘harm’ the heritage of the listed building. Meanwhile, Margo and Plum, now closed, courted trouble from the town council by displaying a neon sign in the window of its St Mary's Street store, while Freckleface caused a mini furore by hanging plastic foliage from its frontage in Red Lion Street.

Stamford does have a shop guide – which was introduced in 1993 and is still used by the council.

We have approached South Holland District Council for comment about the situation in Holbeach.

What do you think? Should Lincolnshire’s town all have a ‘shop guide’ to establish a set of agreed standards? Let us know your views in the comments below…



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