New look marks progress with Market Place building
Workmen removed scaffolding from outside the former Lincolnshire Co-operative store in Caistor Market Place in recent days (end of July, 2018) – revealing a dramatic new look that reflects the building’s past heritage.
The exterior of 2-4 Market Place has been painted in different colours; an echo of times gone by when the site was made up of different shops.
The change was suggested by West Lindsey Conservation Officer Liz Mayle at a meeting in June with high-level staff from Lincolnshire Co-operative, local politicians, and a local group which is working to put the site back into use. The meeting was organised by Kathryn Moore, Heritage At Risk Solutions Officer for Heritage Lincolnshire.
Green and red have been chosen for the fascias of 2-4 Caistor Market Place, adding a stylish look to the front of the premises.
The site, which is in fact a complex of five buildings, has been empty since the Lincolnshire Co-operative moved into a purpose-built complex in nearby High Street in 2010. The vacant store has been a talking point in the town for years, prompting Caistor Town Council in 2013 to consider taking charge of the complex, but the idea was shelved.
A group has been drawing up its Articles of Association ready to file with the Financial Conduct Authority, with a view to setting up a Community Benefit Society – an organisation where the public will be able to buy shares and therefore have a chance to elect its board.
On its Facebook site, “2-4 Market Place, Caistor”, the group, which will hope to call itself the Caistor and District Community Trust Ltd, announced last week (July 27, 2018) that it will host a public meeting in the town on September 4 to explain more about its aims.
In its message, the group outlined a number of aspirations, which include improving the physical, social and economic structure in Caistor and District; to promote and protect local heritage; to operate within the legal definition of a Community Land Trust, and to hold land in trust for the community.
Ways in which it could work include creating training and employment opportunities; developing services that contribute to the local economy; providing workspace to carry out these activities; operating one or more local amenities and providing access to land for the community.
It is currently envisaged that all shares would have a nominal value of £1, with a minimum shareholding of five.
The organisation’s constitution will be available to view publicly, and within its first six months, the group would call a full meeting so that its membership can vote in a new board.
Currently, two meetings are planned on September 4. The first meeting, to be held in the afternoon, will address businesses, while the second is intended to attract a wider audience.
Neil Castle, a member of the steering group and the proposed early-stage Company Secretary, explained that a project viability plan is being put together to consider 2-4 Market Place’s long-term future, but the first priority would be to bring back into use the areas that face the Market Place.
“In terms of timescale, it will probably be 2020-21 before anything moves in,” he said. “But we have been in discussions with two or three businesses as potential users of the premises. They could be significant contributors to the Caistor economy.
“It is an exciting time. Right now, shops are having to reinvent themselves. We have a fantastic opportunity to work from the ground up and think about what will attract people to a small market town. We are hoping to get something that Caistor people will be proud of.”
When asked about the possible scope of the organisation, and why it did not apparently dedicate itself to the project at 2-4 Market Place alone, Steve Critten, fellow steering group member and prospective early-stage Board Member, explained, “This came about from talking to other people. There were other organisations that we looked at where they started off with one project but spread their ambitions. This will widen our options.”
Three early-stage Board Members are hoping to steer the fledgling Community Benefit Society forward until the new board is elected. They are Steve Critten, Don Morgan and Alan Dennis, who all live locally and are well-known in the town.
Further details about the public meeting on September 4 will be circulated later in August, and it is hoped that notices will be put up on the doors of the former store so that all of the community will be kept informed of the latest developments.