Well-established national retailers could stand side by side with a restaurant or cafe in the new-look Corn Exchange, which is hoped to be completed by Christmas 2016.
Lincolnshire Co-op Chief Executive Ursula Lidbetter was speaking after City of Lincoln Council granted planning permission for phase one of the £12 million Cornhill Quarter redevelopment.
The first phase of development will see the removal of the modern extension surrounding the Corn Exchange, revealing the original building and creating refurbished units for shops and restaurants.
Around five units will be created in the Corn Exchange and the first floor of the Grade II listed building will be brought back into use.
The creation of five units does not necessarily mean that five new businesses will come to the site, as a retailer may wish to lease a number of units.
Ursula said: “We’re open-minded about exactly what businesses would come into the units but what I’d really like to see is a mix of really good retailers that fit with that area and probably a restaurant or a cafe spilling out into the street.
“When you strip off all the modern extensions you could have a cafe culture down there as long as the sun shines which of course it does all the time in Lincoln!”
Work on site could begin in spring 2016, with the Corn Exchange project to be completed by the end of the year at the earliest, and the mid Sincil Street redevelopment hoped to be finished by Christmas 2017.
The mid Sincil Street renovation focuses on numbers 30a to 35 and will introduce another several units to the block.
The buildings will be extended back and within the existing historical facades, new shop fronts will be created.
A walkway will go through number 33, linking to the multi-storey car park being constructed as part of the plans for the transport hub, which was also given planning permission by city councillors at the same meeting on October 28.
Ursula said: “Sincil Street is a wonderful, quirky area, with a mix of national and local traders.
“But it has suffered and needs this investment so we’ve got the bit between our teeth, we’ve got the money in the bank, we’ve now got the planning permission, and we’re raring to go.”
Before plans were approved, the majority of existing tenants in the Corn Exchange Market had identified suitable alternative accommodation for their businesses.
Lincolnshire Co-op has confirmed that agents Banks Long & Co will continue to work with tenants – including the fruit and vegetable traders – and City of Lincoln Council to ensure a smooth transition to new trading locations.
“We’ve been working hard over the last six or seven months with each trader to ensure that they’ve got somewhere to relocate their business,” Ursula added.
“We need the local traders and with more footfall and activity arising from this development, I’m confident that everybody’s business will flourish and prosper.
“So many city centres around the country are really struggling because they haven’t invested and all the business goes out of town.
“We’ve managed to buck that trend and the Cornhill Quarter and the transport hub are an absolutely vital part of making sure that our city centre powers forward and doesn’t fall behind.”