THE GO-AHEAD has been granted for the demolition of the old Guildhall in Gainsborough.
West Lindsey District Council say that the green light for demolition paves the way for exciting developments in building a thriving town for Gainsborough.
This week, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government approved plans to demolish the old Guildhall on Caskegate Street.
The old Guildhall was once a hive of activity as the headquarters for West Lindsey District Council, but since they moved to new £4.3m premises at Marshall’s Yard in 2008 it has stood empty and has become an expensive problem for them to keep and maintain.
The council say that the decision will save tax payers up to £60,000 a year in business rates and maintenance.
A West Lindsey District Council spokesman said: “We are now using our own assets to lead the way for a regeneration scheme in the Lord Street area of the town, in order to increase footfall in that part of the town centre.”
“It will pave the way for new developments planned for the area of the town known as Elswitha Quarter.”
“Phase one will entail demolishing the Guildhall site, landscaping of the area including Whittons Gardens.”
He continued: “This will also include a new hotel and restaurant which will act as a catalyst for leisure and cinema developments on the Old Guildhall site.”
WLDC council leader Coun Burt Keimach said that the future looked bright for Gainsborough.
“Following negotiations the Government and English Heritage consent has now been granted for West Lindsey District Council to demolish the former Guildhall in Gainsborough,” said Coun Keimach.
“This will pave the way for the development of the area for leisure uses in line with the Council’s plans for the area and save the Council between £50k -£60k in business rates.”
He added: “This is a wonderful opportunity to further develop Gainsborough and add to the attractions in the town.”
WLDC agreed in principle to a mixed-use regeneration package in the town, which could see a hotel, cinema, restaurant and shops built near the riverside.
However, the decision has attracted controversy and mixed opinions from councillors and local residents.
Coun Judy Rainsforth said that she should be very sad to see the building go but that ultimately there was no choice.
“I love the building and wanted someone to come along and develop it,” she said. “However, it was costing us an arm and a leg to have it standing there so sadly I had to vote for it to be demolished.”
She continued: “It just looked like nothing was going to get done, nobody wants it there and it’s just too expensive.”
“It’s such a shame.”
Coun Rainsforth added: “I’ve always thought that it’s a very unique building with a lot of character and I think that we could have made something great out of it.”
Last week, The Standard spoke to a group of WLDC councillors who were angry that the public had not been consulted more on the development plans for the Elswitha quarter.
Coun Chris Darcel said: “It may not be so bad if the package delivered brought new wealth to the town - but it is something that the town should decide.”
However, the Council say that they will undertake a consultation exercise to get people involved in how the public realm in this area can be planned to make it more useable and to ensure that its quality is improved.
They also say that of the Whitton’s Gardens area to be developed, only 20 per cent will be lost to built development with the rest remaining as public open space and car parking as it is now.
Under the plans, the Riverside Walk will also remain unaltered and available to the public.
A West Lindsey District Council spokesman said that a date for demolition had not yet been confirmed.
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