The former Hills/Coney's

New town centre hub to be refused?

Plans to transform a former town centre store into a centre including a community cafe and play area look likely to be refused.

The Lighthouse Church applied to change the use of the former three-storey Coney’s building in the heart of Spalding’s shopping area.
The application also included a coffee shop and moving the food bank to the premises and offering an area for worship.
A supporting document said the church wanted to bring the building back to life.
“This new venture will provide the town with a unique coffee shop and that also provides soft play facilities for children when they and their families come into town,” said the statement.
But a lengthy report to South Holland District Council’s planning committee on Wednesday recommends the proposal be refused.
“It is considered that the loss of retail related and town centre uses are not justified,” says the report.
“The applicant has not demonstrated that the building is suitable for the proposed uses in terms of noise. It is not clear whether the development, if approved, would have unacceptable impacts upon residential amenity or place unreasonable restrictions upon existing town centre businesses,” it adds.
Services to be offered would have included debt support services, an after-school youth area, an entrance for the Agape Foodbank, a bookshop, cafe and both a senior citizens’ club along with mother and baby groups,.
“While the proposed development would be succinct with community led policies of the plan, the loss of town centre uses associated with a key building in the primary shopping area and the inability to determine whether the proposed uses are acceptable in terms of noise would heavily outweigh the benefits brought about by this proposal,” the report says.
A spokesman for The Lighthouse, who were informed of the recommendation by The Voice, said: “We are extremely disappointed.
“As a long-established church in Spalding that has always made supporting the community our focus, we feel that this proposal will enable us to bring something of value to the town centre.
“Our work would make that premises a real hub of activity every day for the community in a location that people can access with ease.
“We have always been respectful of, and seek to continue to work with the council, having done so for many years, however, the main challenge that we face is space.
“Finding a property in Spalding large enough to accommodate us is very difficult, but we believe we have found it in Hills and hope that the council will see the many benefits this project could bring.”

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