Council backs charity’s new HQ and a yurt at school, but Horncastle wildlife park still in balance

A lion leaving his enclosure at Wolds Wildlife Park.
A lion leaving his enclosure at Wolds Wildlife Park.

Ambitious plans for a leading charity to build a new million-pound-plus headquarters in Horncastle have moved a significant step closer, it can be revealed.

Age UK Lindsey’s proposals for a £1.5m building on a derelict site off South Street have been supported by the town council.

The HQ site for Age UK Lindsey.

The HQ site for Age UK Lindsey.

The new HQ would safeguard 150 jobs at the charity which helps elderly people across Lincolnshire.

The town council has also agreed to back two major developments at Banovallum School - a kitchen and canteen extension and the erection of a yurt - a 40-foot ‘tent’ - that will serve as a drama centre and classroom.

However, councillors stopped short of supporting key proposals - the erection of three enclosures and a quarantine unit - at the Wolds Wildlife Park.

At their meeting on Monday night, members of the council’s planning committee agreed they lacked the ‘experience and expertise’ to comment on the application for keeping dangerous wild animals including tigers, lions and wolves,

Banovallum School. EMN-180821-101730001

Banovallum School. EMN-180821-101730001

Regarding the Age UK Lindsey building, the charity’s Chief Executive Officer Andrew Storer told the meeting the new headquarters were vital to the organisation’s future.

He said the charity had been based in Horncastle for more than 20 years, and described the town as its ‘spiritual home.’

However, he confirmed the charity was currently based at different locations in the town and admitted facilities at one building in particular were ‘an embarrassment’ when it came to showing visitors around.

He praised the work of the charity’s staff and volunteers regarding fundraising, but said the present arrangements had led to concerns about the ‘on-going sustainability’ of the organisation.

Mr Storer revealed the new building would allow AGE UK Lindsey to expand, offer more services and help an ever-increasing client base.

He also confirmed the two storey building would include apartments which could be rented out, boosting the charity’s income stream.

Town and county councillor Bill Aron raised concerns about an increase in traffic on an already congested South Street and Boston Road. He was also concerned about a lack of parking places.

Mr Storer said he had every confidence in the plans for the site but accepted a suggestion by the planning committee that the charity prepared a traffic assessment as part of the planning process.

Meanwhile, headteacher Grant Edgar outlined the plans for Banovallum School.

He told the meeting the current kitchen and canteen facilities were ‘not fit for purpose’ and urgently needed updating.

He said the school had been successful in applying for funding but did not reveal the cost.

Mr Edgar described the yurt as a ‘unique facility’ in the local area and said it was a more economic way of providing additional accommodation than a traditional classroom.

Planning committee chairman Coun Brian Burbidge praised the school and said the expansion and the yurt were needed to cater for a growing town and a growing population.

Councillors went on to discuss proposals for the Wildlife Park, but were adamant they could not comment on the application for the enclosures which already house a tiger, lions and wolves.

•Final decisions on all the applications will be made by ELDC.