Refurbishment of the National Centre of Craft and Design will secure jobs and enhance space for artists

Date Published: 24 July 2019

Plans have been drawn up for a £1.2 million refurbishment of the National Centre of Craft and Design in Sleaford which will create an enhanced modernised space for artists and also secure the commitment to the town from major employer MRI Software.

Under the scheme, the top two floors of the building will be occupied by MRI which will move from its existing premises in Westgate. All the existing features of the NCCD will be retained by the addition of a 200 square metre ground floor extension.

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Subject to planning permission being granted, work is expected to begin early next year and the project has excited Council Leader Cllr Richard Wright.

“The work will help us to attract even more visitors to Sleaford by broadening the variety of arts and entertainment on offer and we will also create a local hub whilst still maintaining and developing the Centre’s national significance. There will also be much needed conferencing facilities.

“As a Council we are committed to championing the arts, something we have done for more than a quarter of a century.

 “I am also pleased that the work will provide a new home for MRI Software which currently employs more than 60 people in the town,”said Cllr Wright.

The plans for the scheme were drawn up after a month long public consultation designed to find out what residents and visitors wanted from the NCCD. The process engaged with more than 600 individuals and groups and confirmed not only high levels of local engagement in the Centre but also highlighted a number of development areas.

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Cllr Lindsey Cawrey, Executive Board Member with special responsibility for leisure, said she was delighted by the level of engagement in the consultation.

“Our survey was available online and on paper with copies available from the NCCD, the district and town council offices and a range of visitor venues.

“The survey was promoted across the Council’s social media accounts as well as through a range of partner sites and it was emailed to a wide network of artists, creative groups, clubs, businesses and organisations locally and nationally.

“We also asked people for their thoughts at lots of locations in the district including Ruskington and Metheringham libraries, the Heckington windmill and tea room, the Sleaford Leisure Centre, One NK, and the Whisby Natural World Centre. It was a lot of work, but it really paid off in getting a clearer understanding of what people like and hope for in the Centre,” said Cllr Cawrey.

Making use of the feedback, concept plans have been drawn up which show the development of a ground floor gallery, an artist workshop, a children’s zone and a performing arts studio. The food and drinks offer will also be significantly improved by a large indoor bistro and an outdoor seating area taking in views of the River Slea.

MRI Software acquired long term Sleaford employers Qube Global Software in October 2017, an organisation that had operated in the town since 1982. The company is also excited about the plans.

Regional MRI Software Marketing Director James Lavery, who manages a team based out of the Sleaford office said: “Our Sleaford team is a key part of international operations and will continue to play a major role delivering property software to businesses all over the world.

“Our move to this new facility demonstrates our commitment to the town, to the county and to the talent that emerges in the region including that from the University of Lincoln. We’re proud of our company’s roots in Sleaford and are looking forward to being part of an important creative hub for the area.”

In April this year LK2 Architects were awarded the contract to deliver architectural services. Paul Starbuck, Director at LK2 said: “We are delighted to build on our excellent working relationship with North Kesteven District Council to deliver an innovative and exciting design for this nationally significant building. We are looking forward to delivering a creative design which is befitting of the use and function of the NCCD.” 

You can tell the Council your views on the development by emailing NCCDRefurbishment@n-kesteven.gov.uk