New plan for car park sent back to applicant

Plot on Sleaford's Southgate when in use as a car park
Plot on Sleaford's Southgate when in use as a car park

A newly-submitted application made for car parking, including options for market use at 26 Southgate in Sleaford has been returned to the applicant and will not be determined by the Council. The application was for a substantially similar development to that which had already been dismissed at appeal and which is subject to an enforcement notice. This action is in line with powers available to decline to determine repeat applications.

The owners’ cessation of its use as a car park on June 7 was in compliance with an enforcement requirement endorsed by an independent planning inspector who dismissed their further appeal against a second refusal by the District Council to formalise a temporary arrangement. The site had approval in 2007 for a housing, office and retail scheme to help revitalise the town centre, which the owners have not managed to fulfil. It was only ever intended for temporary car parking provision, with 40 spaces available short-term, to bridge a period of economic downturn around 2009-2010. It remains allocated within the Local Plan as a potential site for a range of uses including office, commercial, retail and/or residential.

In dismissing the owners’ appeal, the planning inspector said there was no shortage of spaces in Sleaford. The Market Place remains available for parking up to July 19 and even after it closes to daily parking there remain 500 parking spaces across seven council-run car parks, plus 50 in Jermyn Street also off Southgate. This increases to 700 across nine locations every evening and weekend when Lafford Terrace is added in and will be close to 750 over ten sites when structural issues are resolved to allow the Westgate car park to re-open. 

Council Leader, Cllr Richard Wright said, “The Southgate car park was only ever supposed to be a temporary use given the difficult economic circumstances during the downturn in 2009/10. Generously we extended the temporary period but as far back as 2017 advised the applicant that there would be no further extensions of time and that the landowners should either bring forward the mixed use development they had permission for, or engage with the Council on an alternative regeneration scheme. Sadly they have not done so and the refusal and enforcement action can be no surprise to them, nor can the legitimate use of powers to decline to determine a repeat application. 

“An independent Planning Inspector has already endorsed the Council’s approach by dismissing the appeal and upholding enforcement on that. The route for the landowners is now simple, deliver a development that brings commercial, retail or residential uses that will add vitality and viability into the heart of the town centre. 

“This latest application also sought to hold a market three days a week, two of which would be in direct competition to the established market operated by Sleaford Town Council. Given that the market already has an historic home that will soon be traffic-free and dedicated for stallholders, with an improved environment in which the town council can look to grow the market, it seems counterintuitive to purposefully seek to undermine that opportunity.”

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