£1.2m redesign of Sleaford craft centre secures jobs

Plans have been drawn up for a £1.2 million refurbishment of the National Cantre of Craft and Design in Sleaford.

Subject to planning permission, the existing features of the centre will be encompassed in a new 200m ground floor extension, while the top two floors will become home to MRI Software.

Major employer MRI will move from its existing premises in Westgate.

Concept plans have been drawn up which show the development of a ground floor gallery, an artist workshop, a children’s zone and a performing arts studio.

The food and drinks offer will also be significantly improved by a large indoor bistro and an outdoor seating area taking in views of the River Slea.

Work is expected to begin early next year.

In April this year LK2 Architects were awarded the contract to deliver architectural services.

Council Leader Richard Wright said: “The work will help us to attract even more visitors to Sleaford by broadening the variety of arts and entertainment on offer and we will also create a local hub whilst still maintaining and developing the Centre’s national significance. There will also be much needed conferencing facilities.

“As a council we are committed to championing the arts, something we have done for more than a quarter of a century.

“I am also pleased that the work will provide a new home for MRI Software which currently employs more than 60 people in the town.”

The plans for the scheme were drawn up after a month long public consultation designed to find out what residents and visitors wanted from the NCCD.

The process engaged with more than 600 people and groups.

Councillor Lindsey Cawrey, Executive Board Member with special responsibility for leisure added: “We also asked people for their thoughts at lots of locations in the district including Ruskington and Metheringham libraries, the Heckington windmill and tea room, the Sleaford Leisure Centre, One NK, and the Whisby Natural World Centre.

“It was a lot of work, but it really paid off in getting a clearer understanding of what people like and hope for in the Centre.”

MRI Software acquired long term Sleaford employers Qube Global Software in October 2017, an organisation that had operated in the town since 1982.

Regional MRI Software Marketing Director James Lavery, who manages a team based out of the Sleaford office, said: “Our move to this new facility demonstrates our commitment to the town, to the county and to the talent that emerges in the region including that from the University of Lincoln. We’re proud of our company’s roots in Sleaford and are looking forward to being part of an important creative hub for the area.”