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Talk about the former Co-op building in Caistor’s Market Square dominated the annual town meeting on Thursday (April 30, 2015).

The meeting at Caistor Town Hall Arts Centre was attended by about. 24 people, with Mayor Steve Millson chairing the meeting.

A short report about the town’s progress during the year was presented by Mr Millson, followed by a report into the town council’s finances, presented by town clerk Helen Pitman. Brief reports about the town’s Sports and Social Club, Town Hall, and parks also followed.

Caistor co-op
The inside of the Co-op, viewed from the pavement of the Market Square

Questions were raised in the public forum about the former Co-op building, with Cliff Rust pointing out that the appearance of the Market Square premises was deteriorating. “It takes up nearly 25% of the square and it is one of the first things that people see when they come into Caistor,” he said.

caistor co-op
The view through the windows of the former Co-op

Mr Rust suggested one relatively low-cost step to improve the appearance of the listed building would be to have pictures put up in the windows.

But the town clerk said the Co-op management had already been approached about vinyls and had not seemed keen on the idea.



Please let us have your comments and views on what you would like to see happen to the old

Co-op by commenting on this story and we will invite the CEO of the Co-op to read them


The Florists, now an empty shop
The florists, now an empty shop

Michael Galligan expressed frustration that the Co-op had not done more to look after the building’s appearance since moving to its present location just off the High Street four and a half years ago. It was affecting the whole town, he said. “We have the florist shop closing and the butcher’s shop closing. What is being done strategically to reverse that process? Ninety per cent of Caistor’s heritage is in its buildings.”

Mr Galligan’s comments were endorsed by Caistor Postmaster Martin Sizer. Another retailer had approached the Co-op about renting some space in the Market Square, but been rebuffed, he said.

“The Co-op aren’t interested in renting it out,” said Mr John Burns-Salmond, who is stepping down as a town councillor this month. “But it’s worth remembering that less than 10 years ago, many buildings in the Market Square were in a similar state. The Town Initiative Grant made many buildings viable.”

Mr Millson said the issue was that the renovation of the former Co-op would cost “millions”. It was possible that a heritage trust might be able to help draw up plans for the premises, he said. “Really, it’s a four or five year project which needs access to grant funding,” he added.

Favell butchers
Caistor to lose its high class butchers
The sad note in The Butcher's window, 30 years service to the people of Caistor
The sad note in the butcher’s window after 30 years service to the people of Caistor

The closure of R&P Favell, the butcher’s shop in the Cornhill, has been confirmed by a notice in its window. The shop will close at the end of May.

A hairdressing business is due to open at the former Abbey Vets premises close to the War Memorial, the town meeting also heard. The vets have relocated to a premises on the corner of Hersey Road and North Kelsey Road.

13 thoughts on “Frustration over former Co-op building

  1. Message for the CEO of Lincolnshire Co-operative. The Coop has made a fortune out of the residents and visitors to the town which shows in their building of and running of the new Co-op store on the Talbot site. They therefore continue to make a large amount of money. It is their moral duty, if not legal duty, to put something back into the community by putting into place a strategy to improve the near derelict building they have abandoned and to ensure that Caistors residents, businesses and visitors are not disadvantaged. They should replace any outside soffets and kickboards that have rotted and paint the entire building, including masonry. As already pointed out at the Town council meeting, ‘stick on’ film should be applied to the 18 Windows depicting Caistors heritage. This would have a three pronged affect. The first being to give the building a face lift to give it any chance of selling. The second to stop anyone, be it visitor or local looking into an eyesore and thirdly to put something back into our community by promoting it in the form of photographs. I am not surprised that the Coop estates aren’t keen on this idea. It is because it will cost them money. However, without Caistors support over the years and for years to come there wouldn’t be any money. It would cost them peanuts in comparison to what they make. Money well spent by them – as without doing so, the chance of a sale is negligible.
    Another worry is that this building covers a quarter of the square and it is my experience as a retired fire officer that it is just a matter of time before major vandalism occurs within a building such as this with the threat of a major fire in the building that is in affect an open storage unit covering the full 25% of the ground floor. If this occurred,it could take hold of not just 25% of the square but the fire could spread to the other buildings close by. Therefore, this is a Health & Safety issue for the town which cannot now be ignored. If it is, and a conflagration occures then the buck should stop with the CEO of Lincolnshire Co-operative.
    I appreciate that they have contractors in at the moment cutting out dryrot in the roof timbers but this has nothing to do with the overall disgrace from the outside the Co-op is inflicting onto us.

  2. The poor appearance, the feeling of neglect and a lack of apparent desire to resolve a bad situation that is damaging the community is a strange way for the Co-Op to act when it is dependent upon the community to trade in its Caistor store.
    I am not qualified to comment but the danger to adjoining property and residents from a statitistically significant increased risk of damage by vandalism and fire in a long termempty/abandoned property would make me question the legal liability of the Co-Op if something were to happen.
    The Co-Op has such a wide range of trading interests I imagine that most uses to which a market place building could be put will cause the Co-Op to objective in terms of competitive threat.
    I would think that West Lindsey could play a useful role.
    If the residents of Caistor are genuinely concerned a partial solution is to stop using the Co-Op store until evidence of progress is demonstrated. This may be such a radical step that the Co-Op have decided that the residents of Caistor put the convenience of having a store above the temporary inconvenience of actively protesting to such a large and intimidating organisation.

  3. The town needs to play to its strengths which are many and get the place looking well. First impressions are vital. There is great potential for Caistor in attracting tourism and to promote the other rich attributes of its history and heritage and to further encourage businesses into the town. The success of the Arts & Heritage Centre demonstrates what can be achieved within the town in a short period. The architectural layout of Caistor with its many listed buildings is exceptional and a great magnet for tourism if well maintained. Over the past number of years Caistor has improved year on year out of all recognition from been a run down dilapidated old market town, typical of many hundreds of similar towns across the United Kingdom. However there is a concern at present that the momentum generated over the recent years may have stalled and if remedial action is not taken soon the town will be on the wane again. Since the movement of the Coop across to its new location the market place is now dead. This is more prominent at week ends. It is nearly 5 years since the old Coop was vacated and it has deteriorated badly. Since it has been vacated not a single item of maintenance has being carried out on the premises leaving it to become a major “eyesore and blight” on the Market Place. Additionally there are other buildings in prominent locations which are also an “eyesore and blight” on the town. The cumulative effect of all this neglect has an overall negative influence within the town giving a poor image of the place to residents and tourists and can sap the morale of volunteers who are trying to improve the town for the benefit of all. I think it is time that the Coop stepped up to the plate and carried out a comprehensive maintenance programme on the front of the building which is 25% of the perimeter of the Market Place. Given their vibrant retail unit across the road I believe it is nothing less than Caistor deserves from them.

  4. The article on Caistor Citizen has exceeded all viewer figures ever,clearly showing how the People of Caistor care about the buildings of the town, the real heritage of a community.
    The article has been picked up by twitter which could potentially bring massive attention to this abandoned forlorn building. Hopefully it will be seen by that one person who is needed, who has the funds, ability and foresight to form a rescue plan

  5. I have been surprised by the number of people who have commented to me about my earlier posting on the website. It does seem that many people are concerned and angry about the contempt with which the Co-Op are treating Caistor. I explained that I was trying to be polite but they responded in no uncertain terms!

    The following is fiction but it fits the facts as many people see them.


    Subject: To prevent any retail competition to the new Caistor store

    Rationale: If other retail trading can be supressed for between 5 and 10 years we drive the maximum trade into our Caistor Store and create a trading environment that makes any investment in Caistor by retailers an unattractive proposition and for which funding will be increasingly difficult to obtain.

    Objective: To suppress the Market Place as a trading site by taking 25% of the buildings out of commission.

    1. Refuse to accept any proposals for use of the vacated building on grounds to competition
    2. Allow building to decay to make them unattractive to prospective purchasers
    3. Allow dilapidation to reach a level to justify refusing to rectify /repair on the grounds of excessive cost
    4. To reach a crisis level when civic funds may be used rather than our own to repair and renovate the buildings on grounds of cultural and architectural merit.
    5. Test the local populations resistance to action by a token act of lack of care for our customers such as putting yellow lines on the lay-by opposite our store’s entrance.

    Cost of this proposal: Nil. We are in a depression and unlikely to make significant money from the old property. If disaster such as fire strikes as may happen to an empty building then insurance mitigates loss.

    Recommendation: It will take at least 5 years before the local community becomes difficult so recommend as proposed.


    This is obviously so outrageous no company with any moral code of merit would following this path. But it begs a thought or two.

  6. There is a clause on the old building that states that you cannot develop/buy the building or part of the building if you sell anything that the existing co op store already sells.

    So most ideas for development are blown out of the water as co op sells most things so neither the butchers or the florist could have gone into the old building as the co op sells meat and flowers.

    This is the same reason why the idea for an indoor market was blown out of the water because nothing that would be in direct competition with co op are aloud to own/develop the site which leaves very few options.

    Caistor doesn’t need another pub as the 3 we already have are sufficient. I personally think the best use for the building would be to turn it into a doctor’s surgery to employ one or more extra doctors as the system at the moment is awful to try and get seen.

    Yes it is an eye sore and yes I agree it needs a lot of work but while the clause is in place there is an awful lot of red tape to get through

  7. Richard,
    Obviously fiction but to take it one step further, (still fiction), the shop, which is an open space without compartmentation to prevent fire spread, encounters vandalism and subsequently fire ravages the building and spreads to other properties close by, there is loss of life (Still fiction don’t forget). The CEO of the Company is taken to court on Corporate manslaughter charges and pleads her/his innocence by stating that they’d done nothing wrong. On the contrary the Judge says “you were repeatedly told this could happen in print” Why didn’t you do more? Still fiction?

    • Cliff,
      I think you are right but simply making comments on a web site is perhaps insufficient to act as written communication. It needs a Councillor acting on behalf of Caistor Town Council to make the points to the CEO of the Co-Op and refer him to this web site.
      I have been discussing this property in broad terms with a client and have emailed the selling agent asking him to give me details of the covenants to help me take this very vague enquiry to a stage when it can become a more serious prospect. It illustrate how off-putting the apparent restrictions are to prsopective purchasers.
      We may then have a better understanding of the true nature of the problem.

      • Richard. I agree but if you read the Caistor Citizen again you will see it was an article written by Shona Wall and it was the Caistor Citizen who went onto request comments so that THEY could pass them onto the CEO of the Coop. Mine being the 1st one. It would be nice to get confirmation off them if this has been done and the CEO’s response if any!

  8. How can you expect a local butcher to survive when you allow an additional butcher to attend the Saturday morning market in the square?

  9. Hi Cliff

    The plan has been to leave it for a week for comments, we will be contacting The CEO this coming week.

    Really appreciate the time you have all been putting into making your comments

  10. Cliff, I forgot that this had become a closed subject to the Council. I am not convinced that it needs full blown purchase by the Council but rather a creation of the right conditions in which the purchase of the property beomes attractive to a developer.

    The issue demonstrates the need for a website like the Citizen and that the power of the internet can help private individuals to tackle problems created by the traditionally all-powerful institutions.

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