Five days to opening of £6.5m Red Lion Quarter

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SPALDING’S landmark new Red Lion Quarter will open to the public on Tuesday – and council chiefs hailed it as a key part of their plan to boost the district’s economy.

The £6.5million development off Red Lion Street is set to contain a food court selling local produce, a new college and office space, with a restaurant run by college apprentices to follow, opening on Saturday.

Bosses behind the centre hope it will boost footfall in the town and are planning a marketing campaign to attract people into the town on the back of the opening to entice people into Spalding.

South Holland district councillor Howard Johnson said the centre will have a big benefit for the economy – with premium office space in Spalding to attract businesses, a college to pass on skills and expertise to young people and the space for local producers to sell their goods.

He said the modern building will also serve to increase the town’s standing for would-be investors as the authority aims to cash in on George Osborne’s call for growth in the economy in last week’s budget speech.

Coun Johnson, portfolio holder for economic development, said: “What this does is revitalise an area that was once derelict. It is going to be awesome.

“If you look at the food hall, that will be selling locally grown produce. I’ve seen some of the things in there and I’ll certainly be shopping there.”

The entire second floor will be a dedicated college set up by Boston College and branded “South Lincolnshire College”.

Students will be in place from Easter and there will be an open day on April 7 where people can take a look at what the college has to offer.

College bosses say the facility will help cater for the many students who were affected by Lincolnshire County Council’s decision to slash its subsidy for transport to teens in further education and would otherwise face a hike in bus fares to Peterborough, Boston and Stamford.

South Holland District Council says the aim will be to get 100 full time and 300 part time students at the college in 2011/12.

It expects the number of part time to more than treble to 1,000 the following year, with the same number of full time students.

The council also expects to create 40 new jobs at the centre, five of which are already in place with 25 to follow in 2011/12 and a further ten in 2012/13.

l See Tuesday’s Lincolnshire Free Press for an eight-page guide to the new Red Lion Quarter.