An award-winning butchers could pull out of plans to move into Spalding town centre and create more jobs if its plans for a £200,000 major refurbishment of the shop front are refused this week.
Gary Simpson, of Simpsons Butchers, wants to replace part of the existing shop front at T Law & Sons Butchers in Hall Place and move the door to a central position so new counters can be installed on both sides.
In spite of planners recommending approval, the original plan – including the use of MDF panelling instead of timber – attracted oposition from Spalding Civic Society.
However, this has now been addressed and councillors will be advised of this at tomorrow’s meeting of South Holland District Council’s planning department.
But it is understood Mr Simpson is unhappy about the delay further discussions has caused.
Should he pull out of his plans it would leave another shop in a prime location empty, just as excitement is mounting about the arrival of linens and gifts shop Charmed Interiors, from Downham Market, expanding into a second shop in the Sheepmarket; Lloyds Pharmacy moving into the refurbished ex-Wimpy burger bar in the Market Place; and the refurbishment of the former Grade 11* listed building building next door, the White Hart Hotel.
Coincidentally, Mr Simpson would have been opening at Law’s just in time for the film crew tasked with promoting what Spalding has to offer for a television advert to descend on the town.
Filming of the £30,000 advertising campaign, which is likely to air next Easter or summer and is a joint enterprise between South Holland District Council and Springfields, is due to begin today and continue into tomorrow – with calls going out to businesses to make sure their frontages look in tip-top shape.
Mr Simpson was invited to look at the possibility of taking over T Law & Sons by the brothers Peter (56) and Simon (46) Law.
Deciding to sell it on to Mr Simpson marks end of an era for the shop – which has been in Hall Place since 1918 and is famous for its Lincolnshire sausages and pork pies.
Sleaford-based Simpsons Butchers – which also has shops in Heckington, Stamford and Lincoln – is renowned for having some of the smartest shops in the country and was named 2013 East Midlands Butchers Shop of the Year, as well as receiving a best butcher award for the East of England and being one of only 110 businesses in Britain earning a place in the Q Guild.
When the brothers decided to sell, Peter said: “The sale was brought about by my brother who is in the middle of having two hip operations.
“He decided that he’d had enough but rather than throw in the towel, I talked to a friend of mine in the butchery trade, Gary Simpson, about the idea of running the premises.
“Gary’s decided to go for it and I shall enjoy working for him because he’s a good, traditional butcher with new ideas and he likes a challenge.”
In the report that goes before councillors tomorrow, Mr Simpson stresses his long-term commitment to Spalding town centre and says he realises the importance of tradition.
If given the go-ahead, he plans to take on the six staff members currently at the shop and possibly recruit more, as well as pressing ahead with the major refurbishment of the shop front.
By moving the door, the two counters planned will create 20 times as much serving and display space and open up the shop, making it look less dark.
Goods are to be displayed slightly back from the windows to prevent an adverse affect on fresh products.
l Movements in the town centre will be of particular interest to the long-awaited town centre manager. It is expected an announcement will be made this week, after a third set of interviews to fill the position.