PLANS for Freshney Place to become a town centre venue for leisure, eating out, cinema, and shopping have been discussed with residents at the first of three public sessions.
As residents are encouraged to attend the other two open events this week, North East Lincolnshire Council has stated its intention to work with partners and private business owners to ensure empty town centre buildings are brought back into use.
Such buildings would include, as a prime example, the former House of Fraser privately-owned premises, which has been empty since the department store closed in 2019. Not part of the Freshney Place complex, North East Lincolnshire Council purchased the centre knowing that the 64,000 sq ft site was likely to remain empty in the immediate future. It is planned that a positive use for it will come forward as talks are held on the future of Freshney Place and the town centre, which focus on an eclectic mix of facilities and attractions for public use.
Scores of people visited Freshney Place between 10am and 3pm on Monday. They met professionals leading the Market Hall & Leisure Scheme who were at the unit – Market Square, 1-3 Friargate, (located in front of the Starbucks, facing the Top Town Market internal entrance) to look over design boards detailing the planned transformation of the centre’s western end. The unit will be open and staffed again tomorrow (Thursday) and Saturday, 13 and 15 October from 10am until 3pm.
The main issues highlighted by visitors included the leisure use of the area, parking once the improvements have been made, and the design, look and feel of the planned new buildings.
As reported, three weeks of public consultation started on Monday 26 September with people invited to either visit the Freshney Place unit or to join in online at www.freshneyplace.co.uk/markethallandleisuredevelopment-external site. The consultation ends on Sunday 16 October.
The council has won significant grant monies for the transformation of the western end of Freshney Place, which it bought during the summer. The proposed leisure development will house a new cinema, with local and regional operator Parkway Entertainment Group coming in as an anchor tenant and pledging to provide a great venue to complement its offer in Cleethorpes.
It will also feature a remodelled entrance to the centre, which will be lined with units for leisure and eateries, and an entrance to a new and transformed Market Hall.
Encouraging people to visit the consultation events and give their views, Council leader, Cllr Philip Jackson, who also heads up the regeneration portfolio, said: “In buying the centre we have sent out a clear signal that we want to be a catalyst for change across the whole of the town centre, and we were certainly aware of the uncertain future of some of our empty buildings, including the large and vacant space that was House of Fraser.
“We want to influence what we can directly as soon as possible, making sure the land and buildings that we own are developed. But we want and need private landlords and businesses to come along with us. To that end, we are and will be working with partners to examine opportunities. These include looking at different ways of using empty space, which are alternatives to retail – reflecting the changing face of our town centres,” he added.
Just this month the council launched a new project aiming to improve the town centre street scene. Focused on the Victoria Street West pedestrian precinct and surrounding streets, officers are encouraging owners of a relatively small number of street-facing properties to make improvements. They are writing to the owners of properties and advising them on the works needed to bring their buildings to an acceptable standard.