Townsfolk are joining together to shout loud and proud: “Grantham has a bright future!”
The united stand comes as Marks & Spencer formally announced it will open its Simply Food store in London Road on November 26, creating 55 jobs.
This is just one of countless exciting projects which are currently underway in the town. These include a six-screen multiplex cinema, expected to open in St Catherine’s Road late next year, and a purpose-built Lidl in Watergate, not forgetting the east-west bypass, expected to commence next year, and associated Southern Quadrant development of 3,700 homes.
And there are many more ambitious projects in the pipeline, from a redevelopment of the retail park in Gonerby Hill Foot, to include The Range, and a new Pizza Hut takeaway in Watergate.
Meanwhile, many completed projects are already benefiting the town, such as the £3.2 million Grantham Tennis Club at Arnoldfield and the recently opened KFC in Harlaxton Road.
These investments mean great things for Grantham’s economy, said chairman of Grantham Business Club Stuart Pigram.
He said: “We have the Southern Quadrant development and new trunk road, which, as well as relieving traffic from within the town, will attract new investment and increase employment opportunities and housing availability. This combined with the new cinema and ‘cultural quarter’ should give Grantham a real option for entertaining its local resident.
“The developments both within the town and in the surrounding area certainly should give Grantham a smile on its face.”
M&S’s Simply Food store will give the former Currys premises a new lease of life. Measuring 9,000 sq ft, it will also feature a bakery and 50-seat café. Shoppers will be able to order from the catalogue or online and collect in-store.
Store manager Dean Law said: “We’re confident that our quality offering will appeal to locals, as well as those in the surrounding areas, and the store is a great addition to the London Road Retail Park. I am looking forward to welcoming customers through our doors.”
Leader of South Kesteven District Council Linda Neal said the return of M&S, a retailer of “stature,” shows the potential of the town’s growth plans. She added: “SKDC is committed to making the town more attractive to investors. Big business is increasingly aware of the upward direction we are striving to take the town economically.
“The plans for the town’s expansion as part of the Southern Quadrant and proposed multiplex show the town and district are making strides towards a brighter future.”
David Charles, founder of the Grantham Retailers Association, echoed Coun Neal’s positivity towards development in Grantham, but stressed a focus on the Saturday market and reduction in parking charges are needed.
He added: “I am all for any retail or leisure development that will encourage more people to shop in our town, local or not. Over the last 12 months we have seen an increase of retail units taken up and it would be great for that trend to continue, with special focus on the High Street. Both M&S and the new cinema complex can only encourage this growth.”
Also growing is Grantham Business Club, according to chairman Mr Pigram. Following a restructure, it is now attracting an average of 60 local businesspeople to its meetings. He said: “We are looking forward to 2015 and beyond and are currently working on some exciting development plans for the club to ensure as many businesses as possible become involved and really help to drive the town’s businesses forward in these exciting times.”
Also firmly of the belief that these are exciting times for Grantham is the town’s mayor, Coun Ian Selby. A a long-standing Labour district councillor of 19 years, he has witnessed the many changes to the town over that time.
Among them are expansions at Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School, which officially opened its £1.2 million arts and drama block earlier this month, and Grantham College, which bought Stonebridge House to expand into and recently built a £934,000 leanring development centre for students with learning difficulties.
Coun Selby said: “Our schools and Grantham College are a credit to the town. Best of all I see lots of youngsters, especially from the cadet forces, helping very worthy charities, I am very proud of the town’s youth.
“Our town is moving the right direction. Let us send out a message to the hospital trust and the ambulance service that Grantham cannot be ignored.”
Other developments, current and planned, are a new filling station at Sainsbury’s, revamp of Asda supermarket, £690,000 investment in Co-op stores in Princess Drive and Dysart Road, a £648,000 sports hall for King’s School pupils at Arnoldfield and the demolition of the former Priory Ruskin Academy school in Queensway, which will be turned into a housing estate of up to 44 properties if planning approval is granted.
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