Sleaford

New visitor centre approved for Mrs Smith’s Cottage in Navenby

Councillors have enthusiastically given the go-ahead to plans to turn a house into a visitor centre for Mrs Smith’s Cottage in Navenby.

Members of North Kesteven District Council’s Planning Sub-Committee approved Jeffery Kenyon’s proposals for the centre at 3 Blacksmith Mews, with 17 voting in favour and just two abstaining.

Mrs Smith’s Cottage closed in early 2013 after structural faults were identified.

The cottage is named after Hilda Smith who lived there for seven decades until she died in 1995, aged 102.

It is a preserved example of a simple, early Victorian, Lincolnshire cottage offering a glimpse into a bygone era, with walls only a single brick thick and the only modern innovations an inside toilet, cold water tap and electricity.

North Kesteven District Council successfully applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund, with almost £600,000 being awarded to repair the building in 2016.

The venue should reopen in 2019.

At the meeting in Sleaford on Tuesday, March 13, ward member Councillor Marianne Overton spoke in glowing terms about the project.

Councillor Overton, a Lincolnshire Independent, said: “This is an extension of the flagship Mrs Smith’s Cottage project which has improved the reputation of the district.

“Parking is limited as the cottage can only take five cars at a time due to its listed status.

“We will need to find long-term solutions for parking in Navenby in the future.”

Fellow Lincolnshire Independent for the Cliff Villages Councillor Catherine Mills proposed the motion supporting the plans, pointing to how the closure of the cottage had been felt keenly by both residents and businesses.

Councillor Mills said: “The opportunity to purchase Blacksmith Mews will definitely enhance the museum experience.

“I definitely support the proposals.”

Before the vote, committee chair Councillor Pat Woodman told councillors: “I really hope you wouldn’t dream of refusing the application. Mrs Smith’s Cottage is a jewel in our crown.”