Kettering Council has laid out its vision to make the town centre a vibrant place at the heart of the community.
With Corby’s recent regeneration and the opening of Rushden Lakes, some fear Kettering will be left behind.
After holding a town centre conference in September 2017, the council has now created a seven-year town centre delivery plan full of exciting projects it is aspiring to carry out.
Cllr Mark Dearing (Con, Desborough Loatload), Kettering Council’s portfolio holder for regeneration, said: “The attendees at the town centre conference, and their range of ideas and input, inspired us to develop this plan.
“It shows all of our commitment to ensure that Kettering town centre is an important place for people to live, work and enjoy their leisure time.”
A Kettering Council spokesman said: “Obviously, funding is limited and we cannot do everything, but this plan is designed to provide a realistic but aspirational plan for the town centre.
“We now want to encourage feedback on the plan from the wider public and look forward to their comments.”
Simon Cox, founder of the Kettering Business Network, said: “The proposed delivery plan will certainly give the town a much-needed lift.”
But what’s in the plan, and when could the changes be introduced? We take a look below:
SHORT TERM - BY MARCH 2019
As we revealed on Monday, the one-way system could be axed in Eskdaill Street. A consultation is due to begin this month on major works at the junction with Rockingham Road to make traffic two-way. Work could begin in spring 2018.
Meadow Road Park
The council will also begin consulting in June 2018 on potential improvements to the park in Meadow Road. Improvements could include new play equipment, seating areas, a small playing pitch and an area for bands and events.
The council-owned building is being refurbished this year to be used as office accommodation for KGH staff. It could house between 80 and 100 people.
Bowling Green Road/London Road
The council says it will work with Northamptonshire County Council to improve the timing of the lights at the top of Bowling Green Road, to keep traffic moving through the town.
Seats on streets
A fan of al fresco dining? Kettering Council is hoping to facilitate and encourage outdoor town centre seating for dining and meeting.
MEDIUM TERM - BY MARCH 2021
The area which is the disused police station and magistrates’ court in London Road, and adjoining buildings, could be redeveloped for residential development. Cllr Dearing hinted this was an option in 2016.
Hog’s Head/Queen Street
The council says the demolished Hog’s Head pub site is a ‘prime’ spot for residential development. The site was given planning permission for a hotel before a second proposal for over-55s accommodation.
As reported in the Northants Telegraph yesterday, Kettering’s train station is set to receive additional investment to become a regional hub. There could be an increase in car parking, enhanced passenger facilities, a business hub to the west of the station and new pedestrian access to the western platform.
The county court in Dryland Street could also make way for housing, ensuring there are key access points to connect The Yards with High Street.
Parking in Kettering has been a contentious issue for many and charges were recently frozen until 2021. While charges won’t change, the council is looking to review parking management processes to include options such as ANPR systems, swipe/tap and pay and environmental improvements.
Electric car charging points
There are also plans to increase the number of electric car charging points in Kettering - with just three currently in the borough - as reported by us last year.
LONG TERM - BY MARCH 2025
Connecting open spaces
The council says a long-term project will be to improve public spaces and public realms around the town centre to connect key open spaces, such as Meadow Road, Bakehouse Hill, Market Place and Dalkeith Place.
Section 106 funding from major housing developments will also be used to improve and redesign the open space where Gold Street and High Street meet, although there is no further information as to how this may look.
Silver Street/Newland Street/Dalkeith Place
There could also be a public realm scheme to improve the look and attractiveness of the area and its links to the rest of the town centre.
Leader of the opposition on Kettering Council, Cllr Mick Scrimshaw (Lab), gave the plan a cautious welcome.
He said: “Overall I welcome the publication of the Kettering town centre delivery plan but I am conscious that these desires and aims need to be backed up by action and hope this report doesn’t just end up sitting on a shelf getting dusty.
“I was also disappointed that no mention was made about public toilet facilities in the town centre.
“Again, this is one of the issues raised by the town centre conference and it seems to have been overlooked ion this plan.
“I see no reason why a discussion between the council and the public on this particular issue shouldn’t take place.
“For too long our town centres have been left to fend for themselves with seemingly an attitude that if business wants improvements, business need to do it themselves.
“What is actually needed of course is genuine partnership working between the council, local businesses and the community at large, and I believe strongly that the council has a responsibility to take a lead it that and I very much
hope that this new delivery plan will offer a substantial move in that direction.”
What do you think of the projects? Are there any you like? Are there any you dislike? Join the debate on our Facebook page.