Town centre - Planning for the future needed

It is time for Horncastle to “grasp the nettle” and plan how it should develop and improve for its future sustainability.

The Neighbourhood Development Plan failed to address some of the important issues. The opportunity for us, the town’s residents, to control the future development was all but lost.

What do we want our town to be?

It could be a thriving market town full of an eclectic mix of retail businesses or it could be a dormitory town with flats, cafes, restaurants and bars? I know which I prefer.

There are those who advocate closing the Market Place to all traffic.

Quotes such as “to create a food and drink pedestrian area” and “develop a centre for café culture” illustrate how misguided some people are.

Both Cllr Hinkins and Paul Scott are out of touch with which actions would “improve” the town.

There are those who claim that traditional town centres are dying, I disagree.

Look at towns such as Louth, which is filled with vibrant independent traders, both merchandising and food outlets.

It serves not only its local community but also the surrounding area and the tourist trade from the Wolds and the coast.

If justified by proven safety reports, then close Lawrence Street to traffic. However, please leave the Market Place as it is.

The free short stay parking both in the Market and its surrounding road are a boon to the retail trade.

There are many people who pop into town for a few minutes for the bank (if any remain), the Post Office and/or to do a little shopping.

Deny this access and you will drive away from the town a significant amount of trade. For years the Punch House/The Square/Hot Tub shop has been detrimental to the feel of the town centre. Now two retailers have moved from North Street into the building it has been transformed for the better, well done.

Let this be an example as to what can be done.

Equally, the owner of the Archers/Cycle Shop has been trying to renovate the building for years, but still is being thwarted by the Local Planning Authority (LPA) and the conservation officer. The Fighting Cocks has been closed for over a year whilst its owners battle with the LPA over trivia.

Let them develop, improve and open for business!

The main reason that retail businesses struggle in the town is due to extortionate rents.

There are too many greedy landlords in Horncastle who fail to maintain their properties and yet charge overpriced rents. These landlords should be named and shamed.

Equally, East Lindsey District Council Enforcement should be far more proactive in ensuring that buildings standards are maintained.

There are those that fear the proposed bypass (East Coast Highway) will ruin the town. I believe, just as Louth has prospered from the A16 Louth bypass, we would also benefit from a Horncastle bypass. Many of the present traffic issues would be resolved and the whole of the town would become a pleasant environment in which to live, shop and relax.

Andrew Neal

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