New homes and hotel scheme 'will be good for Gainsborough'
A multi-million pound regeneration project for the centre of a Gainsborough has been given planning permission.
Developers are already working with the district council on a hotel, seven-screen cinema, restaurants, shops and new homes scheme for the town.
Now, the local authority has announced that it has agreed in principle to allow a mixed-use regeneration package.
It would transform the Elswitha Quarter, mainly made up of the former council headquarters in the old Guildhall.
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The area also includes the neighbouring car parking area and part of Whitton's Gardens, overlooking the River Trent in Caskgate Street.
The council's policy and resources committee has approved a report supporting the need to push ahead with the scheme which would include new homes and a 50-room hotel.
"By putting a hotel on Whitton's Gardens, it will increase the footfall and the vibrancy of the area," said director of planning and regeneration Mark Sturgess.
"There is an opportunity with private sector investment to improve the quality of the public open space, deter antisocial behaviour and enhance the area for the benefit of the community."
Council leader Burt Keimach said negotiations were already taking place with interested companies.
"Work could even start on the project next year," he said.
But Dawn Barron, the spokesman for the 25-strong Gainsborough Independent Retail Traders group, claimed that local businesses would give the plan a guarded welcome.
"We think this would be very good for the town for obvious reasons," said Mrs Barron, who has run the Barron Bou ladies' fashion store on the Lord Street junction with Church Street for four years.
"But there is also a strong view that we already have empty shops in the town centre – and the White Hart Hotel in Lord Street is also closed and empty.
"So instead of looking to bring in new shops, a hotel and restaurants, maybe the council should be concentrating on regenerating existing buildings?
"Certainly, we all agree that the town centre can't stay as it is and needs to progress.
"But there's far more concern about the number of empty shops and houses – and the only hotel in the town centre lying empty – than there is interest in a huge new development.
"We just think we should all concentrate on making sure what we've already got in Gainsborough is improved."