Guildhall plans are nearly here

The old Guildhall site on Caskegate Street G120313-3b
The old Guildhall site on Caskegate Street G120313-3b

A CINEMA and a hotel could be the first steps toward ‘reviving’ the area around Gainsborough’s old Guildhall.

West Lindsey District Council (WLDC) said such development would provide a boost to their ‘overall vision’ for the area around Caskgate Street known as the Elswitha Quarter

Rumours have been circulating for months about the future of the Guildhall building, which used to be the district council’s headquarters.

The Standard revealed in March that the council was seeking permission from the Secretary of State to demolish the building.

Then in June we told you that plans were being drawn up for a mixed-use development, including leisure facilities.

And last week it emerged that those multi-million pound plans were nearing completion.

In line with the council’s desire to attract more leisure facilities to Gainsborough, they are rumoured to include a seven screen cinema, 50-room hotel, restaurants, shops and homes.

Speaking specifically about the potential for a cinema and hotel on the site, Coun Malcolm Parish, chair of prosperous communities for WLDC said: “Potentially that is what we would like. And if we achieve even part of it, this will create the catalyst for our overall vision of the regeneration of the area.”

But the authority will still not reveal the identity of the private investor drawing up the development plans. Although a spokesman said they were expected to be submitted in ‘days or weeks’.

Coun Parish said: “Details are confidential at the moment because it is commercially sensitive and they are still in the early stages of negotiation.”

“However, the council has made it clear it has been seeking new leisure and cultural development to revive the town centre further.”

The council needed permission from the Secretary of State to redevelop the former Guildhall, because it stands within a conservation area.

It is not clear whether the iconic 1960s building will be bulldozed completely, or redeveloped using the original structure.

It was designed by Gainsborough architect Neil Taylor. Back in March, he told The Standard of his sadness at seeing the building go.

“I’m proud of the building as it stands. But the idea of it being lost makes me shudder because of the loss to the town of a significant piece of civic architecture,” said Mr Taylor, 83.

“I would have clapped my hands to see it listed. Not only from a personal prestige point of view but putting some restrictions on what could be done with it in the future.”

“The real thing that irks is the fact it was a quality building. I was told it had to last a long time, much longer than 50 years.”

Overall the feeling in Gainsborough is that regeneration can not come soon enough.

Employment opportunities alone on such a big project will provide a welcome boost to the local economy.

Coun Malcolm Parish said: “It is difficult in these economic times for any growth in general therefore to get any interest is good news.”

“Generally Gainsborough is a place that is on the up. Recent new developments include a new McDonald’s and one of the town’s biggest employers Ping has extended its manufacturing facility.”