Plans to revamp Lincoln’s Central Market, including new unisex and accessible toilets, have been approved by city councillors.
The application for the City Square building, from the City of Lincoln Council itself, was green lit by the authority’s planning committee on Wednesday.
It will include the partial demolition and construction of a new two-storey extension to the south of the building (at Butchers Corridor), accommodating a new commercial unit, planned to be a restaurant, with a roof terrace.
A final cost for the the build is not yet known, however at least £8.5 million has been requested according to documents before the Town Fund Committee earlier this month, with £5.9 million coming from the Towns Fund, while £2.6 million will come from match funding from the Heritage Action Zone, the Public Works and Loan Board and council reserves.
The council said the plans will compliment other developments in the city, including the £70 million Cornhill Quarter project and the £30 million Transport Hub.
A centrally located food court will also be housed inside the revamped building, while City Square and Sincil Street will be re-paved and the roof on the existing market building will be replaced.
During the meeting on Wednesday, Councillor Gary Hewson said: “It is a fantastic idea to make the building more attractive but also to make inside the building more attractive to people to go into.”
However, he queried the number of toilets being included, and asked if the planned cafe/restaurant area would be providing their own or if there would be a separate area for those working in the market.
Officers said the plan at the moment was just for the unisex toilets, but added that there had not yet been any agreement over who would run the cafe and that any future business might want to include their own.
Councillor Chris Burke said: “This is a very sympathetic development that will add to the visitor economy and the tourist attraction… people are interested in seeing developed markets in this way.”
The toilets will form part of the Butchers Corridor demolition, along with a baby changing facility and ancillary accommodation.
Last week, the City of Lincoln Council’s executive approved controversial plans to close some public toilets in the city in a bid to save £82,000 a year — despite concerns from local residents and businesses.
Members of the executive committee said during a meeting last Thursday night that it was “not a decision we want to make,” but blamed the authority’s “dire” finances instead. That’s because despite COVID support from government, the council would still face a £1.32 million funding gap in dealing with the pandemic effects.
The authority will close the Victorian urinals at The Lawn, on Union Road and at Newport Arch, while facilities at Lucy Tower will open for special events only. South Park will also remain closed except for events.
Westgate car park’s toilets will also be “mothballed” with access only to disabled people or via radar key, and during special events such as the Christmas Market or Steampunk Festival.
The council said there will be suitable alternatives, including the bus station facilities, and those on Tentercroft Street, Castle Square, Hartsholme Country Park and Boultham.
Historic England has welcomed the idea of regenerating the Grade II listed market building, describing the move as an “exciting strategic initiative for heritage led regeneration in Lincoln.”
It is hoped that the works will start in early 2022.