Work begins on forging a brighter future for our beloved ‘Freemo’

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 13 Mar 2018

FIRST steps towards a brighter future for Freeman Street are already being taken, as the area’s once-vibrant commercial centre goes through the process of being returned to local ownership.

A full-day workshop to look at the wider regeneration of the area will take place next month, after a High Court judge ordered the handing back of the large parade to the Enrolled Freemen.  

Covering more than three acres, the vesting order will see the return of the land and buildings to the charity on March 25, as reported last week, with the team having proven its historic and ongoing interest in the area, after the previous owner was liquidated.

The handed back site, zoned in red, immediately north of Freeman Street Market.

Now Hodson Architects will head up the event on behalf of the Freemen, as community engagement is sought to develop the site, brought back from the Crown’s clutches.

Mark Hodson, who heads the eponymous firm, said: “Freeman Street is a special part of Grimsby with a deep history and strong tradition that has undoubtedly suffered from decline in recent years. We want to do something about this and now there is an opportunity to make change.  

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“The Enrolled Freemen of Grimsby, who own and operate the indoor market and Business Hub, will shortly acquire around 3.5 acres of land and property next to the market. The high profile derelict site fronts Freeman Street and is bordered by Kent Street, Thesiger Street and Nelson Street. This includes the prominent seven-storey former council office building.

“The Freemen want to invite discussion about how this site can be transformed and benefit the wider community of the East Marsh. The aim of the workshop is to bring together a wide variety of people and organisations with diverse interests in the area to look at issues, discuss possibilities and identify a way forward.  This includes businesses; residents; voluntary and community organisations as well as local authority and public agencies.”

The handed back site, zoned in red, immediately north of Freeman Street Market.

The initial proposal is to demolish the northern sector from Freeman Way, where the high-rise office sits, to House of Holland at Kent Street, while improving the southern section which retains several national high street names as tenants, including Boots, the Post Office, Heron and William Hill, with the aim to attract more.

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And with the soon-to-be demolished flats, there is potential for enterprising schemes in a once-proud street, headed by a vista dominated by Grimsby’s Dock Tower. 

Taking place from 10am on Friday, April 13,  at the Business Hub, chair of the Enrolled Freemen, Stephen White, will introduce the background to the move, with clerk Jonathan Goolden – a solicitor with Wilkin Chapman who brought forward the successful action – explaining the Freemen’s purpose and status.

The site from above.

Recent regeneration initiatives in North East Lincolnshire and reports will be highlighted, with socio-economic data, employment and health trends fed in by Adam Fowler.  Mr Hodson will then analyse the site and its immediate context, including the initial demolition scheme and potential phasing, before theme areas are explored, with existing facilities, community use, commercial and industrial interests, health, housing, education, arts, culture, sport and funding to be included.

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With a strong link to Grimsby Community Energy, spawned from a highly successful scheme on the roof of the market, innovative technology will also be addressed, with stakeholders invited to share ideas in a break-out session and open discussion. 

Mr Hodson said: “We will hear from a range of speakers with knowledge and experience and then focus on specific trends which will lead in to structured discussion and ways forward.  We want stakeholders to think about how we can all work together to achieve real change in the area.  

“This is a unique opportunity to make a difference and once again help to put some pride back into the Freeman Street area.

“It is important that we get the right mix of people together, those with varying views, interests, experiences and skills.”

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