Fresh plans for the approach from St Peter’s Hill to Grantham’s yet-to-be-built multiplex cinema have been revealed exclusively to the Journal by the district council.
Previous proposals included the knocking down of the civic suite – which is home to the council chamber – to create a ‘pedestrian gateway’ to the complex in St Catherine’s Road, but this has been scrapped after being deemed neither “sensible nor cost-effective”.
Instead, South Kesteven District Council’s new administration wants to re-configure its town centre headquarters, which stretch from the civic suite to the customer service centre in Abbey Gardens.
The new-look building would see staff working flexibly at ‘hot desks’ and could enable the introduction of a business incubation centre – a long-held ambition of the local authority.
Deputy SKDC leader Councillor Kelham Cooke is leading the project. He said: “Our current offices have a very old-fashioned layout, which uses the space very poorly. Surveys have also shown that we need to invest in the fabric of the building to fix the basics, such as fixing leaking roofs. We already know we will need to invest in the building anyway, so it makes sense to think more broadly.
“It is early days, but we believe that an open-plan office, with ‘hot desks’ where employees can use laptops, rather than everyone having a fixed desk, will not only improve the way we work and the service we provide, but also potentially free up a lot of space that we can put to better use – such as a ‘business incubation centre’.”
As a council, we are committed to staying in the centre of Grantham and ensuring that our 300-plus employees continue to support the local economy.Coun Kelham Cooke
The council is currently in the process of running a seven-week feasibility study to look at how it can use its existing office space more efficiently by adopting more modern, flexible, ‘open-plan’ working. These plans have been announced to council staff.
The council said that details of how the scheme would be financed will not be known until further work has been finalised. The wider scheme may also see investment in the Guildhall Arts Centre.
The plans are now being considered as part of a wider review of the St Peter’s Hill ‘quarter’, which already includes the five-screen cinema and associated restaurants. Building work on the cinema site is due to begin by the end of the year, said SKDC.
There have been several variations to the proposal for the ‘leisure quarter’ and the connectivity with the town centre since the multiplex cinema plan was revealed in 2014.
Coun Cooke said that the new administration voted in earlier this year, led by himself and leader Coun Matthew Lee, will take action, but only once revised plans have been discussed and agreed by the council.
“We look forward to completing the feasibility study and seeing what our options are,” he added. “Our thinking has moved on since it was first proposed; for example, we no longer think it’s sensible or cost-effective to demolish the civic suite at the council. However, we do want to ensure there is a natural flow between St Peter’s Hill, through Edith Smith way, to the new cinema.
“One thing is clear, however. As a council, we are committed to staying in the centre of Grantham and ensuring that our 300-plus employees continue to support the local economy.”
The council aims to announce more information about its plans, and wider plans for the economic development of the area, at a major economic summit it is hosting at Stoke Rochford Hall on Monday, October 9.