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‘It would undermine the vitality and viability of the town centre!’ Plans to transform empty Spalding department store into community hub with soft play area and food bank recommended for refusal





Plans to transform an empty town centre department store into a community hub and food bank look set to be turned down.

The Lighthouse Pentecostal Church want to change the use of the former Coney’s store and prosecco bar in Spalding into a mixture of retail, cafe, soft play, foodbank, office and community areas.

However, South Holland District Council’s planners have recommended their application be refused, stating it would ‘undermine the vitality and viability’ of the town centre’s retail area.

The Coneys site in Spalding
The Coneys site in Spalding

The matter is set to be discussed at South Holland District Council’s next planning committee meeting on Wednesday (July 17), after being withdrawn from June’s agenda.

That was the second time the matter has been deferred.

“The application site relates to a key building located within the primary shopping area,” the officer’s report said.

The cafe area to the rear of Coneys
The cafe area to the rear of Coneys

“It is considered that the loss of retail and town centre related uses of this building, coupled with the previous losses of nearby buildings to non-retail uses would undermine the vitality and viability of Spalding town centre as a retail and town centre uses-led destination, and, instead replacing key town centre floor space with community uses.

“The application also does not sufficiently justify why a location within the primary shopping area (which strategically focuses on town centre uses) is required for the proposed community uses.”

Speaking on behalf of the church, Jenny Tedbury previously told LincsOnline the application would provide a much-needed ‘safe space’ for the community.

Coneys is on the market
Coneys is on the market

“The proposal has the potential to meet some of the needs that the town centre is currently lacking, a soft play/cafe for parents with their children, a safe space for young people, a range of different activities, clubs and programmes that are run by the Lighthouse Church including our Sunday services and events,” she said.

“We are very disappointed that the decision is still to refuse the application, however, we hope that the committee members will see the community benefits of this proposal and support those in Spalding who agree that this is a good use for the building.”

The council’s original consultation saw 35 representations from the public, 33 in favour, one representation and one objection.

Members and trustees of Lighthouse Church are hoping to convert the former Coneys store in Broad Street, Spalding. Pictured are: Josh Earl, Keith Davies, Pastor David Sandhu, Jenny Tedbury, Alistair Main, Chas Sandhu with Lewis and Charlotte Lovett
Members and trustees of Lighthouse Church are hoping to convert the former Coneys store in Broad Street, Spalding. Pictured are: Josh Earl, Keith Davies, Pastor David Sandhu, Jenny Tedbury, Alistair Main, Chas Sandhu with Lewis and Charlotte Lovett

Support for the scheme highlighted an increase footfall into the town, a good range of services and its increasing the safety of town users.

However, the objection raised issues such as the loss of retail, no increase in footfall of shoppers and that the plan would ‘ruin the heart of the shopping centre’.

“The proposals show a soft play area and cafe at ground close to the main entrance on Broad Street, a multi-use area for children and youth and a youth zone (youth clubs),” the planning report explained.

“There is also a food bank located at ground floor.

“A church hall, furniture store, cafeteria is located on first along with a book shop, reception area and food bank.

“On second floor staff room, toilets and office space.”

Coneys closed in May, 2023 and was previously the Hills department store.



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