Controversial plans to open what is thought to be the first ever charity shop in Caistor have been given the go-ahead by planners.
The shop will be sited in the former magistrates court buildingwhich had been run for many years as a multi-use centre, providing meeting spaces.
In recent years the spaces became used less and less so when the lease ran out, the Multi Use Charity decided to call it a day.
When plans to turn the centre, in the town’s South Street, were submitted, Caistor Town Council raised an objection as they saw it as a loss of an amenity.
However, Stephanie Dale, who submitted the plans on behalf of Caistor Arts and Heritage Centre as its manager, said it will be an added amenity for Caistor and help secure the long-term future of another.
She said: “The shop will be an asset to the town, especially for those who have limited transport.
“We hope it will attract visitors to our market town. They are much needed for the other shops, pubs and cafes.
“The money generated by the shop will also, it is hoped, secure the long-term future of the Arts and Heritage Centre and take the pressure off the cafe to generate all the money needed to cover the centre’s overheads.”
Caistor Arts and Heritage Centre is a community charity which provides the town’s public library, an art gallery, local heritage displays and many workshops and training for local people.
Ms Dale added: “Local businesses have been very supportive of the new shop as they see it as helping drive people to this part of town.
“We now have the task of fitting the shop out which will take a few weeks.
“I very much hope we will be open at the beginning of February.”
It is planned to open the shop from Wednesday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm and will be run by a team of volunteers.
Current centre volunteer Sheila Oldham has been using her considerable experience in the charity shop sector to help set up this new venture.
She said: “There is a lot more to think about than people realise.
“It has got to be run the same as any business.
“It isn’t a jumble sale, it is a shop selling good quality items and we want it to be the best it can be.”
The key to the shop’s success will be getting volunteers and this task has fallen to the centre’s volunteer co-ordinator Christine Brewster.
She said: “We have a small team who have already offered to support the shop but we will be looking for more people once it is up and running.
“If you know of anyone who would be interested in taking part in this new venture, please ask them to get in touch.
“Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, learn and share your own skills with others.”
Town resident and volunteer director at Caistor Arts and Heritage Centre, Sue Neave is hoping people will get behind the project to help get it off the ground.
She said: “Now is the time to clear your cupboards.
“We will take good quality clean items such as clothing, household items (not electrical or furniture), toys, jewellery, bric-a-brac, all the usual things - plus we also plan to have a vintage section.
“There will be volunteers at the shop over the next few weeks to take deliveries so if you have items to donate, then please just check we are there before you come.”
The building remains in the ownership of Lincolnshire County Council - and the upper floor as offices - but Caistor Arts and Heritage Centre has signed a five-year lease for the ground floor.