A Shared Vision For Spalding Town Centre

Jointly produced in 2013 by Spalding & District Civic Society and Spalding & District Chamber of Commerce

 

Spalding should be a great place to work, live and play.

  1. Agree in principle the vision?
  2. If so, then let's agree some short and long term projects that will help achieve this vision.

Spalding has three key selling-points : its riverside, its market town identity and its food industry. 

 

Our objectives should be to enhance the quality of the town centre and to support develop­ments which will complement and sustain the town centre. The results would be a place where it is a positive pleasure to live and work, to shop and go about business, to enjoy one's leisure, to meet or spend some time - and to revisit. In short, an attractive setting for a vibrant community.

 

To take the setting first:- 

 

The historic centre has enormous potential, with its three inter-linked public spaces and historic street pattern. Steps towards realising that potential could include encouraging landlords to upgrade their properties by taking advantage of the PSICA grant scheme and bringing back the Johnson Memorial Fountain to its rightful place to give focus and individual character to Hall Place; also encouraging an improvement in shop fronts and window-dressing to bring the general standard up to the level of the best.

 

The public spaces enclosed by the buildings should each have a distinctive sense of ' place' , with street furniture that is well designed and laid out. They should be clean and free of clutter, feel secure and welcoming, with clear sign-posting making it easy to locate carparks and leading shoppers round the centre.

 

The pedestrian passageways are invaluable traffic-free short cuts binding the town centre together. These must be made vibrant and attractive in themselves, thus encouraging footfall along these vital links to the Crescent and the riverside and also from Broad Street to the Red Lion Quarter.

 

Remarkably, within a mere stone's throw of the town's retail and business centre is the prime asset of the riverside, with the potential to become a high-quality green linear park. It is the setting for many of Spalding's most handsome historic buildings, a wildlife corridor and a major contributor to the town' s special character and individuality. A long-term vision for the riverside forms part of the excellent Spalding Waterspace Study. We should like to see the waterways opened up for leisure use and the riverside made more accessible for walkers & cyclists. We are mindful that the river and its wild­life must be carefully protected, but at the same time we need to make much more of this natural asset.

 

Given the potential of the town centre and its riverside, it is crucial that visitors are encouraged to discover their attractiveness. Over 2.4 million visitors  come to Springfields  every year, and it is recognised that they will be occupied there for only half a day. Therefore, the town centre must be clearly signed, particularly from Springfields and the bypass, and when in town the carparks should be easy to find - and cheap.

 

But without a retail and business sector that is vibrant and sustainable much of the above would be empty gesture. The town centre has to feel vibrant and inviting, as we have to compete with other towns or cities for our customers. We are fortunate to have a core of independent retailers trading within the town. This is our strength and our competitive advantage. We must therefore encourage and assist our existing independents, whilst encouraging others to join them.

 

We are a market town and the Tuesday and Saturday markets must be re-energised  and  seen as a draw to bring  customers  into the town.  The government's  Portas Report  is clear on the important role markets can have in reviving struggling high streets.

 

The town also has distinctive shopping areas (e.g. The Crescent) . These areas should be encouraged to create their own identity, as part of the lively variety offered by the centre as a whole.

 

At the same time we must be realistic: retailing has changed and is continuing to do so.

 

These changes must be managed. Supermarkets stock a huge range of non-food products, and the internet makes shopping easy for time-scarce shoppers. Maybe the viable shopping area needs to contract towards the centre, with some areas of the town previously designated  for shops being allowed to change their  premises to offices or residential  use.  The town centre must not be allowed  to sprawl outwards.

 

We are in the heart of a major food production and processing area and we should look o these companies to support the town centre. Equally, the traders should support these businesses and provide good services for their employees. The town should develop a cafe culture with good quality eateries using local produce.

 

We need events to showcase our history, riverside, food and hospitality, which will entice visitors to return to find out more.

 

An attractive  setting for  a vibrant  community.

 

The one encourages  the other. A lively retail and business community produces the extra capital for enhanced shop-fronts; enhanced shop­ fronts and stylish window-dressing increase footfall and custom. The economic and the environmental are inter-linked and inseparable. 

   

 How do we achieve our vision for Spalding Town Centre?

 

​​Short-term Projects

 

Environment:

  • War on litter, graffiti and fly posting, with a zero tolerance policy on offenders by the Police. Supported by regular clean-ups by the Payback Scheme and Community Groups. 

Market:

  • Review the layout and location.
  • Promote the market to towns and villages within a 30 minute drive.
  • Encourage new market traders with free stalls for a limited period.
  • Create events/happenings throughout the year in Market Place, Hall Place and Sheep Market.
  • Integrate Farmers' Market with main market.
  • Improve appearance of market stalls.

Activities:

  • Integrate South Holland Centre more into the life of the Market Place.
  • An event stage should be considered. 

Access:

  • Effective signing into and out of the town centre as well as within it.
  • Directions to car parks.
  • Bus/water taxi info hub displaying activities and offers.
  • Well maintained car parks in convenient locations, managed (and charged where necessary) to support the needs of the town centre.
  • Consider opening up Market Place to traffic and buses on non market days.
  • Free car parking on Saturdays in December. 

Security:

  • Encourage the Council to financially support CCTV.
  • Encourage retailers to join and actively use Shopwatch. 

Showcase the area:

  • Food Festival - approach local food industry firms for their help in marketing Spalding through a professionally run event that appeals to both residents and visitors. 
  • Flower Festival - should be re-launched with static displays throughout South Holland with visitors encouraged to follow a historic trail to explore the area.
  • Spalding in Bloom - should be supported by retailers with hanging baskets, ideally with a permanent watering system. Planters should be sponsored and well presented throughout the year.

Marketing/Promotion:

  • Promote Spalding attractions and activities to visitors and residents through a guide, website and social media.
  • Produce a promotional programme to include events and promotions.

Others:

  • Bring back the Johnson Memorial Fountain to Hall Place.
  • Encourage Boston College to provide relevant skills training that will improve the visitor/customer experience.
  • Encourage start-up retail business by providing free stalls along with mentoring.
  • Ensure that any future town centre development enhances the whole, rather than the part.

Longer Term Projects

 

Riverside:

  • Open up the river to boating - start with a charity event to showcase what can be done.
  • Work with the Council and Environment Agency to improve access to the river. 

Night-time Economy:

  • Develop a plan to enhance and promote the evening and Sunday roles of the town centre. 

Market/Tourism:

  • Carry out a feasibility study on the viability of a 5 day craft market as a visitor attraction. 

Security:

  • Consider Street Rangers during the day and Street Pastors at night and at the weekend.

Landlords:

  • Pro-active approaches to owners of long-term derelict, vacant and underused land and buildings to secure their greater contribution to the life and appearance of the town centre.

How to start to achieve the Vision. 

  1. Agree in principle the projects.
  2. Appoint a Town Centre Manager responsible for the coordination of activities , point of contact for businesses with the authorities, set achievable targets and monitor success.

 

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