Help needed to plan new uses for former Co-op

A steering group that has been set up to try to find solutions to the former Co-op in Caistor Market Place has reached out for support from the local community via a press release.

Sent shortly before Christmas, (December 20, 2017), the press release might be seen as an important step by Caistor residents, many of whom seem to regard progress on the project as being shrouded in mystery.

The press release trumpets funding support by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Architectural Heritage Fund in helping to set up the steering committee, but does not give details on how much funding was awarded.

But given that funding applications can be a lengthy and complex process, all successful bids are likely to be seen by residents as both an achievement and a welcome development.

In what might be seen as a rebranding exercise, the press release moves away from referring to the Grade II Listed buildings as the former Co-op store and refers to the project as 2-4 Market Place, Caistor.

The buildings have been empty since the Lincolnshire Co-op moved to a purpose-built premises off Caistor High Street more than seven years ago.

At present, the steering group is made up of five local volunteers, says the press release, but it is seeking more people to join, especially to help with ‘wider project activity’.

Local historian and former Caistor Primary School headteacher Alan Dennis is among those on the steering group.

“The project is going to take a lot of our volunteer input to get sorted, but it is worth it to see the building saved and used to benefit the community,” he is quoted as saying.

It could be that the steering group is looking for very structure-specific roles from any would-be volunteers. When the Citizen’s editor engaged in an email correspondence with Mr Dennis to put her name forward, she was asked to submit a CV detailing her skills. She has since retracted her offer.

Mr Dennis added that the steering group was still due to discuss what skills were required and how it would appoint new members of its team.

Evident from the press release is the steering group’s achievement in gaining support from Heritage Lincolnshire, the Architectural Heritage Fund, and the Lincolnshire Co-op. Liz Bates, CEO of Heritage Lincolnshire, Matthew McKeague, CEO of the Architectural Heritage Fund, and Stephen Galiaard, CFO of  Lincolnshire Co-op, are all quoted in the press release.

The steering group will work to identify viable new uses for the buildings, will receive advice on organisational structure and will get the chance to visit other similar successful projects to see what could be done, said the press release.

While the press release does not give contact details for would-be volunteers, it was despatched by Heritage Lincolnshire, telephone 01529 461499 or email htladmin@heritagelincolnshire.org

 

 

 

8 Comments

  1. Carol Barnes

    Oh dear I dont know what to say are you saying Shona that you put your name forward and because you were asked for a CV you withdrew believing your obvious skills in communication and standing were well known. I would have thouğht any one who cares as much about Caistor as you do would have been welcomed with open arms. Just who are they after. I think I would have been hurt

    Reply
  2. Chris Carver

    I too would have been interested in volunteering. However, certain experiences when I was heavily involved in the initial stages of the Heritage Centre committee make me hesitate. I would not wish to repeat that experience. Notwithstanding, I wish success to whoever volunteers to help resurrect this eyesore in the middle of our town.

    Reply
  3. Jonathan Holt

    I seem to recall that the Town Council gave the Coop somewhere between £10000 and £25000 pounds for Hodson architects to do a viability appraisal which came up with several presumably NON viable options. Shouldn’t the steering group have decided what they were going to do before getting grant money- then asking for free ideas from volunteers?- or is it me ?

    Reply
  4. Sue Neave

    This all sounds oh so familiar! What Caistor needs is some proper business input with experienced and already successful enterprises investing in the town. And enthusiastic, committed people (I would have thought you’d have been ideal Shona) to drive the whole thing forward. There is so much more that could be done to improve and support the retail opportunities in Caistor and attract visitors to them.

    Reply
  5. Julia WInston

    Is it true that the co-op can restrict what the old co-op is used for? Or is that just a rumour?

    Reply
  6. Mike Stockwood

    Shona I commiserate with you relating to the reply you received from Mr Dennis after showing a serious interest in joining the CO-OP steering group. I noted the comments made by Mrs Pitman in the Caistor Council minutes dated 8th June 2017 that there was a lack of people coming forward to assist with the CO-OP project, therefore, I contacted Kathryn Banfield of Heritage Lincolnshire explaining that I had a keen interest in joining the group to drive the project forward, I thought my track record would be of use as a member of the steering group, I started an engineering company in 1970 and by 1988 the turnover was one million pound, I dealt with many sub contractors and managed thousands of pounds worth of tenders and the company also had thirty eight employees, I then purchased Briggs & Sons here in Caistor eventually renovating it which now has three very successful businesses.

    Kathryn Banfield has informed me that having consulted with members of the steering group it was decided not to increase membership, It makes you wonder what the CV’s of some of the sitting members look like.

    Reply
  7. Un-Cooperative

    Lincolnshire COOP own a set of buildings in the center of our town that they want too much money for and aren’t willing to put any of their own cash into. They apply for every funding pot going and want volunteers to carry out feasability after feasability until a viable business plan is developed – all completely free of charge. If these Grade II listed buildings were owned by any other private individual of local company there would be absolute uproar, maintenance orders issued and perhaps even the persuit of compulsory purchase. You only have to look at Lincolnshire COOPs 2017 statement to see the money is there. I’m always very reluctant to accuse anyone of anything, regardless of evidence presented, however, I do feel that Lincolnshire COOP are taking the proverbial on this one. They have left a major set of buildings empty in our marketplace, continue to take the towns money and want us to put forward good willing volunteers to clear up their mess.

    Reply
  8. H Grant

    Who is ‘pulling the strings’ with this project? Reading the reponses it appears that their are several very able people prepared to be involved but are being ‘blocked’. By whom may I ask, and why? No wonder conspiracy theories abound.

    Reply

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