Reflections

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic consuming our lives with disruption and stress since March, developers and councils have still been looking to build in our area.

There have been plenty of big developments this year, reinforcing how the county is ever expanding and modernising.

Here are the key developments that have been completed this year and ones which have been given the go-ahead for 2021.


Lincoln Eastern bypass

| Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Opened officially on December 19, the Lincoln Eastern Bypass cost Lincolnshire County Council £120 million to build, with part of the funding coming from central government.

The single carriageway bypass starts at a new roundabout on the A15 Sleaford Road and finishes at the A158 Wragby Road.

This connects the existing northern relief road and is the next step towards creating a complete ring road around the city.

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney, perhaps in jest, said it should be named after him for all the effort he’s put into enabling the project.


The Margaret Thatcher statue in Grantham

The proposed statue of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Grantham.

Probably the most controversial development of 2020, where South Kesteven District councillors approved a £100,000 spend on an event to unveil the new Margaret Thatcher statue in Grantham.

However, plans will be reconsidered, after an opposition member requested the call in for the scrutiny committee, which could reverse the decision by the Conservative leadership.

The £300,000 bronze statue of the Iron Lady, which would sit on a 10ft plinth (making it 20ft tall overall), on St Peter’s Hill Green, was brought to the town by Grantham Museum, SKDC and a Public Memorials Appeal.

Over 14,000 people on Facebook registered their interest in attending an egg-throwing contest at the statue next year.


Cleethorpes 72ft palm tree sculpture

A white palm tree, created by artist Wolfgang Weileder, looks set to tower over Cleethorpes as part of regeneration plans.

You will not miss this approved development when driving to the beach, that’s for sure.

The 72ft tall white palm tree designed by artist Wolfgang Weileder is taller than the Angel of the North and illuminated by spotlights, serving as a “warning for the future” on climate change.

The project attracted mixed reactions from residents, with some describing the sculpture as a “laughing stock”.

This was all part of reinvention project of a Grimsby building into a multi-million-pound Youth Zone set to be completed as part of the town’s new Heritage Action Zone (HAZ).


The University of Lincoln Medical School

Lincoln Medical School on December 21. | Photo: James Mayer for The Lincolnite

The new £21 million Lincoln Medical School is taking shape as work continues ahead of the facility’s opening in spring 2021.

The new five-storey medical school welcomed its first cohort of undergraduate medical students to Lincoln in September 2019 and a purpose-built facility to house the school is currently being developed.

Also, lots of new student accommodation has been built in Lincoln for the new intake of students, one even comes with a private cinema.


Cornhill Quarter takes shape

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Cornhill Quarter’s Everyman cinema opened in Lincoln on August 21 after COVID delays. It joined new restaurants like The Botanist which opened earlier in the summer as the whole area has been revamped.

Sadly, they only briefly got the chance to open properly before the November lockdown and tier 3 measures that don’t allow cinemas and restaurants to open.


Lower Lincoln high street revamp

Photo: CoLC

A £3.5 million injection into “heritage-led” regeneration in Lincoln was approved in July this year.

The City of Lincoln Council plans to create a “High Street Heritage Action Zone” which would allow it to issue grants for the area around High Street, St Mary’s Road and Wigford Way, extending to Sincil Street and Sibthorpe Street.

The grants would allow for historic shop front and heritage renovations, conversions of upper floor residential areas, developing “gap sites” and work to the public realm areas.


Norton Disney Rendering Plant resubmission

The new plan includes a picnic area, nature trail and a viewing platform for the Lancaster Bomber sculpture. Photo: Adobe

Developers behind a refused £28 million animal rendering plant in Norton Disney have announced plans to resubmit the proposals with a new heritage site.

The controversial plan was lodged by Lincoln Proteins Ltd for a site at Villa Farm and would have seen the firm move from its Skellingthorpe factory.

However, Lincolnshire County Council’s planning committee unanimously refused the plan in February following concerns over heritage and location.

There were fears the facility would “overshadow” the Lancaster Bomber gateway sculpture being built off the A46.

When the plans were originally submitted, there was objection from both local residents and North Kesteven District Council over odour and location.

The county council received 1,105 letters of objection.


New Public Sector Hub in Horncastle

The plans for ELDC’s new shared base with Boston College.

East Lindsey District Council approved plans to build new £8.25 million shared base with Boston College.

The “public sector hub” is planned to be built at the former Horncastle Residential College off the town’s Mareham Road.

The development has previously been described as being a “smaller, fit-for-purpose” hub and could also house partners such as health and police services in the future.

The first courses are hoped to start in September 2021.


Lincoln Western Growth Corridor

The latest masterplan for the Western Growth Corridor showing the bus-only routes.

Lincolnshire County Council submitted an objection to plans for the Western Growth Corridor housing development in Lincoln due to concerns that it could make “already difficult congestion far worse”.

Amended plans were submitted by the city council earlier this year to its own planning committee, for 3,200 new homes built on land west of Tritton Road. Among the latest revisions, large parts of the development’s proposed spine route have been designated for buses, pedestrians and cyclists only.

There have been several other large housing development stories this year:


Chicken farm refusal

Inside an intensive chicken farm. Photo: PETA UK

A vegan hamper was gifted to the council as a thanks for rejecting proposals to build a chicken farm with 270,000 birds by grateful animal activists.

A solicitor’s letter sent to councillors prior to them rejecting the “chicken prison” near Grantham could have been seen as “threatening” and “intimidating” a planning chairman said.

However, this wasn’t an easy decision, with councillors being “between a rock and a hard place.”

Previously, the head teacher of a school close to the proposed farm said its existence was “under threat” after parents threatened to remove their children if the plans went ahead.


 

At times, the past year has felt a bit like scrambling over a brutal assault course, littered with unexpected obstacles and with no clearly defined finish line. And with the news that Lincolnshire now faces Christmas under the harshest Tier 3 restrictions, it feels as if we are still a very long way from the end of the race – but I am so very pleased that the advent of the vaccines available in the UK should hopefully mean that the end is now in sight.

As the Member of Parliament for Lincoln, I am acutely aware of how much of a struggle this year has been for some of my constituents. Myself and my team at our constituency office hear daily of the challenges the pandemic has brought to every aspect of people’s lives, everything from the heart-breaking consequences of social isolation for elderly members of our community, to the devastating impact on our economy and local small and medium sized businesses. I also know from the hundreds of phone calls, letters and emails we receive, that despite these challenges, the people of our great historic city have shown extraordinary fortitude and resilience.

Both myself and the Government are determined to match this fortitude with the support people need to receive to assist them over the approaching finish line. That is why, ever since the first lockdown, central Government has made available an unprecedented range of financial support for employees, businesses and local authorities.

I recognise of course that these measures can only take the edge off the pain caused by COVID-19 and I am determined to do whatever I can as your representative in Government to ensure support reaches all constituents who need it. In Lincoln, small businesses are the backbone of many communities, families and our High Street. Unfortunately, despite our Government’s generous and far-reaching financial support packages, the support has not found its way to all who need it among some who are in this critical section of our local economy and community.

As a member of the recently constituted Blue-Collar Conservative Group, and through my time involved in politics in the past, I have demonstrated that I care deeply about the welfare and wellbeing of these individuals who are willing to take risks in striving to be entrepreneurial. That is why, over the past eight months, I have ensured representations made to me by constituents who have, perhaps through various circumstances or reasons beyond their control, unfairly received little, or no support compared to others, have been put before relevant Ministers and Departments, and I have raised the issue in the national media and with Cabinet Members and the Prime Minster in the House of Commons Chamber.

In addition, I have asked a number of Parliamentary Questions calling for extra support for this sector of our economy who have fallen through the cracks in coronavirus relief, especially for those who have received little support since March, to help see them through. I, along with some of my colleagues, suggested reclaiming the £1.9B received by large supermarkets, who clearly do not need it, to assist in funding this support. I will continue to lend my full weight to supporting Lincoln’s small businesses and do everything I can to make sure we find a path through to the other side of this crisis for all who have been adversely affected.

Before signing off, I would like to end with some of the more positive issues I have been involved with this year. The end of this tumultuous year that has presented many of us with so many difficulties, will also see the success of two key infrastructure projects that will provide a huge boost to our city. The first is that the £120m-plus Lincoln Eastern Bypass project will be open by Christmas; the second is that my long-term campaign to secure the development of the North Hykeham Relief Road, the final section of that Eastern Bypass, has also very recently been given the green light by the Department for Transport. Combined, these projects will bring a whole raft of benefits, from supporting the local economy and reducing congestion, to opening up new land for housing and employment opportunities, and enhancing the inter-city environment, whilst providing a circular ring road around our most-loved city.

As your elected representative in Government, it is my responsibility to focus not just on the immediate crisis due to the national and worldwide pandemic, but also on ensuring our wonderful city is in strong form to bounce back once this is over. What better symbol of the promise of a dynamic future for our city than these two major new infrastructure projects?

I am proud to say these road improvements join several others I have campaigned for in recent years. I have campaigned for these improvements by Putting Lincoln First over the last decade and a half, and I am rightly proud that they have now come to fruition be they rail or road – they have improved our city and the lives of all who live, work, visit and study in the constituency of Lincoln, Skellingthorpe, Bracebridge Heath and Waddington that I have the proud honour and privilege to represent as your Member of Parliament once again. From myself and my family, here is wishing you all a happy Christmas and a bright new start and Christian good wishes as we approach the New Year.

Karl McCartney is the Conservative MP for Lincoln.

By Lincolnshire County Council CEO

It is undoubtedly fair to say that we will all be glad to say goodbye to 2020, for obvious reasons.

We go into the Christmas break with cautious optimism that the coronavirus vaccination programme will be successful and that 2021 could see a return to some kind of normality.

I officially came into post as chief executive of Lincolnshire County Council at the start of the year – and what a baptism of fire it has been!

I would like to acknowledge and celebrate the resilience and flexibility of staff across the council during such challenging times.

It’s been difficult for everyone, and I’m so proud of our teams who have really pulled out all the stops to ensure that we keep delivering high quality services for our communities.

With most of our employees now based away from our offices, we have had to adapt to a whole new way of working and find innovative ways to support those most in need.

It has been particularly inspiring to see how different teams are using technology to reach out to people especially through the use of video conferencing, social media and online groups.

I’ve also been deeply impressed by members of our staff who have been thrown in at the deep end, willingly moving into different roles to keep our critical services going.

They have left their usual positions to work in residential children’s homes, waste transfer centres and Covid testing sites amongst others, to make sure we have been able to continue to support those in most need of our critical services.

I would also like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to the many unsung heroes who have supported  the vulnerable in our communities – I have been humbled by the acts of kindness from friends, neighbours, community members and volunteers, and we should be very proud of the way we have supported each other up and down the county.

While we may feel as a nation that we are getting closer to the end of the pandemic, which is great news, we still have some challenges ahead of us.

It is to be expected that we will play a crucial part rebuilding the economy. At Lincolnshire County Council, we have always prided ourselves on providing efficient and effective value for money services over the years – and this will continue.

We have already launched an ambitious programme of work which, among many things, is harnessing technological innovations as well as ensuring we make best use of our buildings and all our assets. This will enable us to make the most of our budget, and I am optimistic. While this has been the most demanding few months – I believe it has brought out the very best in people – pulling together across organisations to support each other and the most vulnerable in our society.

Our task now is to harness this energy and keep this spirit going.
I’m looking forward to a new era at the council where we can put the pandemic behind us and carry on using the creativity we have unleashed to the benefit of Lincolnshire’s future.

Debbie Barnes is the Chief Executive Officer at Lincolnshire County Council. She was appointed in December 2019 and had been the director for children's services and interim head of paid services prior to this.

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