Preparations underway ready for Market Place closure

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Aerial view of Sleaford Market Place
Aerial view of Sleaford Market Place

Final arrangements are being made ahead of works to make Sleaford Market Place a useful space to hold markets, events and public activities more freely.

Ahead of the scheme, details on the work schedule are being shared with stakeholders and nearby businesses. Advance signage will also be installed to forewarn of the closure of the Market Place as a car park from July 19, followed by further signs to say that the businesses around the Market Place are open as usual, to give information on alternative car parks and direct people to the temporary location of the market and Farmer’s Market at Eastgate Car Park.

Some final onsite checks will then take place before the groundworks begin at the end of July, running through to an expected completion in mid-December.

The project will see the Market Place repaved with sandstone setts to lighten up the space and better reflect the surrounding buildings and features. Two raised planters will provide greenery and shade, along with three hardwood benches within the design of the planters and a further seven hardwood benches around its perimeter. 

The war memorial will benefit from up-lighting and the bollards which protect it will be retained, while resin-bound gravel will highlight the area around it. The old hut will be removed, with the parking attendants who used it relocating to the North Kesteven District Council offices. New lighting under the trees and an information board will also be installed, plus five new cycle hoops.

Time-limited Blue Badge Holder parking will be available on the Market Place three days a week when it reopens, in addition to arranged access for church events and services in agreement with the church wardens.

Market traders will also benefit from an enhanced environment that, being free of moving vehicles on market days, will give customers more confidence in moving around it safely. It also allows more space for additional potential stallholders, along with better visibility for those existing traders. Operation of the market continues to sit with Sleaford Town Council, who will be able to provide and promote a market that meets the aspirations of residents.

North Kesteven District Council Chief Executive Ian Fytche said: “We’re committed to ensuring that the scheme supports the continued success of the town centre; by enhancing the Market Place as a space where people can freely move through its historic setting and shop without the current conflict between pedestrians and lots of moving cars, where the markets can trade more visibly as a key feature of Sleaford, and where community events can take place more readily and in enhanced surroundings.

“In readiness for the works to start, we are sharing more information on its phasing with individual stakeholders including the ways we’re working together with our contractor to keep disruption to a minimum. This includes maintaining pedestrian access to shops and businesses as much as possible throughout the works, and ensuring access is maintained to St Denys’ Church.”

Civil engineering and construction company Smith Construction is appointed as the contractor to carry out the works. It’s a local business founded in 1979 as a family building firm and headquartered in Heckington, and prides itself on its high standard of work. Much of its staff are also local to the area. 

Hoarding will be put up facing Eastgate and around the main rectangle of Market Place, with pedestrian access to the surrounding shops, businesses and St Denys’ Church kept via the footpaths which will be left accessible. It’s hoped there could be an event for young people whereby the hoarding is decorated. 

The exception to this is limited periods where work needs to take place directly outside a premises. These works are planned where possible around their opening times and they also won’t take long to complete, for the most part limiting access for only a day or so during those closed hours. To limit noise or other impact during the Remembrance weekend, no works will take place during any events on 10 and 11 November. 

The al fresco seating next to Sessions House will need to be packed away while repaving takes place there from early August until mid-September. It’s hoped the hoarding there can then be removed, while the bulk of the works continue in the main rectangle of the Market Place.

The temporary relocation of the market to Eastgate Car Park is for the duration of the works only. While the Market Place is owned by the District Council, the market itself is operated by the Town Council under a licence agreement, which is subject to ongoing renewal discussions. 
Mr Fytche added: “The temporary relocation of the market is a necessary step during the works, and ultimately we hope that everyone will continue to show their support by visiting it in its temporary location there. Mindful of the historic integrity of the market to Sleaford, we continue working with the Town Council to ensure its ongoing success and hoped-for growth, where we anticipate it being more visible and vibrant in the refreshed Market Place.”

The project is being delivered using the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Frequently Asked Questions 

  • Can’t you leave sections of the Market Place open during the works?
    Access is needed to site welfare, materials and equipment so unfortunately it’s not possible to section the works. There is also the matter of safety. They are being phased and pedestrian access maintained as much as possible to reduce disruption. The exception is the area outside Sessions House which can be reopened sooner.
  • Will there be access to St Denys’ during the works for funerals?
    We and contractor Smith Construction will liaise with St Denys’ Church to enable access needed during the works, for example for funeral vehicles. Notification is needed as soon as such arrangements are known, so we can do what’s needed to accommodate. We will maintain communication with St Denys’ throughout the works.
  • What will happen to the defibrillator that’s onsite?
    The defibrillator was always going to be retained on the Market Place, never removed completely. A new location has been identified at the front of the Market Place and agreed with Shock Sleaford, the group responsible for its upkeep.
  • What will you do with the old setts from the Market Place? 
    They are not being bid on, or sold off. Where possible, the old blocks that retain their integrity after removal may be re-used on other regeneration projects locally. Those that can’t will be reprocessed as stone aggregate for future projects.
  • Will the regular markets and Farmer’s Market return to the Market Place? 
    Sleaford Town Council operates the market, and we continue working with them to ensure its ongoing success and hoped-for growth where we anticipate it being more visible and vibrant in the refreshed Market Place after it reopens.
  • Will traders be allowed their vehicles when the Market Place reopens? 
    Discussions on this and other operational matters continue with Sleaford Town Council, which operates the markets, and will be covered by the operating licence. It is recognised that traders with vehicles specifically designed as a stall for displaying goods and/or producing food need to trade from them.
  • Will the Christmas Market include the Market Place this year?
    As stated on Sleaford Town Council’s website, it’s anticipated that the event will return to the Market Place in 2025. The Christmas Market is organised by the Town Council, which has said it will take place on December 1 and will be held in the centre of town in Eastgate Car Park, Eastgate Green, Navigation Yard and the Town Hall along with other events taking place on the day.
  • Why aren’t you spending this UKSPF money on street lighting or potholes? 
    This is not what the funding has been made available for. Residents of course want to see high quality local services delivered and any specific issue – whether it be potholes, street lighting or other things – is best raised directly with the council responsible so that the right team with the right resources can respond. You can find the services that North Kesteven District Council is responsible for, and access onward links for those it’s not, at www.n-kesteven.gov.uk/a-z
  • Are the new setts suitable for events and other uses? 
    Yes, they are hardwearing sandstone setts which are suitable for such spaces and the range of uses they support, including events, as well as allowing rainwater to drain. Contractor Smith Construction are experts at dealing with such materials and projects. 
     
Image gallery | Market Place in use

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