South Kesteven District Council set to buy Cummins site in Barnack Road, Stamford
South Kesteven District Council is set to buy the former Cummins site in Barnack Road, Stamford, it was revealed last night (Thursday, October 11).
Coun Matthew Lee, hosting the second annual economic business summit at Grimsthorpe Castle near Bourne, told more than 150 guests from the business community that the council was in the “final stages of negotiations to acquire the large development site”.
At last year’s summit, held at Stoke Rochford Hall, the council revealed plans to build a new digital hub and initially it was thought this would be at the Cattle Market and led by the team at The Hub in Wharf Road.
But those plans have now been shelved with the plans for the Cummins site including an “innovative digital campus”.
The council is working in partnership with the Burghley House Preservation Trust to develop both the 15-acre Cummins site and a neighbouring field, owned by Burghley which is also 15-acres, to bring forward the mixed-use site.
The aim is for the council, using its commercial company Deliver SK, to find the appropriate private partners to work with to bring forward the development.
It will include some level of housing but the exact number is not yet known and Coun Lee is keen that the housing is “appropriate to its surroundings”.
Coun Lee (Con) told the Mercury that the development would be a “fitting gateway into Stamford” that would be in keeping with the “magnifient Elizabethan palace that is Burghley House”.
Coun Lee (pictured above) said he “welcomed” that Cummins, which has been a major employer in Stamford for more than 50 years, would continue to have a “presence in the town” with its site in Ryhall Road - which is being developed as a centre of excellence for research and development.
He told the Mercury that if the council hadn’t stepped into buy the site, it “is likely it would have been sold to a major housing developer”.
“We want to create a highly appropriate development in keeping with Stamford.”
Coun Lee promised improvements to Barnack Road and said creating a digital campus would automatically mean fewer lorries travelling up the narrow road.
The purchase is expected to be completed in the next few weeks, Coun Lee told the Mercury, and until then, the price that’s being paid is being kept under wraps but Coun Lee called it a “very significant investment”.
“There’s lots of businesses that need the right kind of accommodation,” said Coun Lee.
“There are several that have been talking to Invest SK.”
He said housing would be an “important part of the development” but added: “Housing in isolation doesn’t grow the economy and we don’t want places like Stamford to become dormitory towns.”
He said the council had been working with Cummins on the acquisition of the
site, since the proposed closure was announced late last year.
He said: “I feel these are the right circumstances to intervene, preventing the further loss of employment land solely to housing development.”
Coun Lee said the acquisition and development would be a “real example of what Deliver SK can achieve”.
After the completion of the purchase, the next step is for Deliver SK to find a private sector developer and for a commercial business case to be brought forward within the next six months.
Coun Lee said some of the existing Cummins buildings would have to be demolished.
Coun Lee told the Mercury he thought the plans would be received “positively” by the Stamford community.
“We are providing opportunities for people’s children and grandchildren to stay within Stamford and ensuring that Stamford continues to be a vibrant town that’s an attractive place to be. It will be an attractive development.
“We are also bringing forward plans to improve the road and parking that will be extremely helpful.”
He said the last 12 months had been spent “putting the right instruments in place” to deliver the council’s aims, including Invest SK, which was announced at last year’s summit, and Deliver SK.
Coun Lee added: “The time is right to stop talking about things and to start doing
them. When I am talking
about things I am really serious and I am delivering on that agenda.”
At last year’s summit, the council revealed plans for new leisure facilities in both Stamford and the Deepings and Coun Lee said more would be revealed about the proposed sites for those developments in the
coming weeks. A refurbishment of The Meres Leisure Centre in Grantham is also on the table.
“We remain committed to bring forward those leisure facilities,” Coun Lee promised.
The council also remains committed to running a festival in Bourne, in addition to Stamford’s biennial Georgian Festival, Grantham’s Gravity Fields festival and the Literary Festival in the Deepings. But Coun Lee said itwould “not be a motorsport event” coming to Bourne. Again, more will be announced in the next few weeks.
Coun Lee said investments in the arts and culture, including the festivals, were important “because of the massive economic benefit”.
The council is also investing in its markets and Invest SK is looking into the possibility of a regular market in Market Deeping.
“You can’t have market towns without a market,” Coun Lee said.
To read Matthew Lee's full 14-page speech to the summit click here
Read moreHuman Interest
More by this authorKerry Coupe