Since Tesco have pulled out of Sleaford, is the outlook as bleak as we think?
Now that’s a hell of a question, but the simple answer is no, the outlook isn’t bleak. Regeneration may be held up, it may even stop for a while, but life will carry on. It is fair to say also, that the shopping opportunities may not be what we hoped, as quickly as we hoped, but in the end, things will improve.
There are several reasons that things will improve, the first and probably most important is the people of Sleaford. While the various Councillors argue and hold up progress, people power will shine through, the people of Sleaford have realised that leaving it for someone else to do just isn’t the way forward. Emma Yardley and Karen Pole will put on their Dog Show, the Carnival Committee will put on the Carnival, the Roundtable will host Oktoberfest once again. There will be an Autistic Fun Day in May, which hasn’t been held before, life does and will go on.
Aside from the individuals who are putting in time and effort, there is the newly formed Town Team (http://sleafordtownteam.co.uk/) a group of locals who have got together to improve the town, Nightlife, Footfall, Events, Business and also the Market are all areas that have been earmarked for work. The signs are all promising, they have already secured funding for a two day Digital Skills Workshop. (I would say that though, I’m one of the founder members!)
So, the future of Sleaford? One thing that is sure is that another 3500 houses will be built in and around Sleaford over the next 15 years, meaning (even if we err on the side of caution) that by 2030, Sleaford is likely to have a population reaching 30 000. It’s not all doom and gloom, but a few things need considering. NKDC has learnt its lesson from places like Greylees, where amenities were promised, but never delivered, and have gain assurances that by certain stages of development shops, doctors and schools will be included. The issue here is that developer find ways around these legalities, hopefully NKDC have this nailed and will actually get what they are promised.
The other issue here is that the population will have doubled since 2001, but the road system will not have significantly improved since 1906. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the number of motor vehicles will have increased in that time. A throw away fact is that the number of cars in Sleaford has trebled since 2001…. THREE TIMES as many!
What does that mean? Well, in the absence of a new road, and I DO fear that the CPO could fail now, we are left with roads more suited to a couple of horse and carts than thousands of cars. Congestion, it’s bad enough now, give it fifteen years and, unless flying cars become a reality, we are going to be very, very stuck. Part of the Masterplan were little things like moving the two grammar schools to the end of the Drove, creating an entrance to the Drove at the bypass – removing nearly all the school traffic, eliviating a lot of the congestion, although I am not brave (or stupid) enough to blame young mothers, there is little doubt that school and work traffic contribute heavily.
Can this be fixed? Well, yes. NKDC could forge on with the road, the CPO could suceed. Tesco could sell the land on and let another supermarket in, NKDC could even CPO the land. That’s a lot of “could”‘s though.
What of the Maltings, let’s face it, that could be an awesome Meadowhall type development and could really put Sleaford on the map. It could indeed, but without the road it is likely to be very hard to develop (access issues), but if you have a spare £100m to get that all underway, give me a yell, I’ll put you in touch with people!
So, if you are reading this and own a chain of Supermarkets and fancy an epic investment, Sleaford want to hear from you. We need you!
I did tell you it’s not all doom and gloom, it will be harder to get where we are going, but we will get there and who knows, maybe NKDC have a Plan B.
Leave me you thoughts in the comments.