The heart of Kettering’s former criminal justice centre is to be knocked down to make way for a new modern homes and commercial use scheme.
The long-awaited regeneration of the London Road site in Kettering town centre is now moving forward at full pace after Kettering Council signed a contract this month to buy the former police station building.
The authority will be undertaking the development itself and working with planners and contractors to create a modern mixed-use scheme featuring homes and commercial activity.
Cllr Mark Dearing, who has responsibility for the regeneration of the town centre, said: “We have agreed with the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office to acquire the police station.
“It is all part of the town centre regeneration plan and we have brought this element of the development forward.
“We have already purchased the former magistrates court and all the adjacent properties and so I imagine that the site will be cleared.
“We needed to have a big piece of land that we had total control of so that we can progress the redevelopment.
“However, the scheme has got to be viable so it will include homes, possibly flats and also have a commercial element to it.”
Last September (2017) the authority carried out a consultation on proposals for the town centre and in February unveiled its masterplan, which included axing the one-way system at Eskdaill Street and improvements to Meadow Road Park.
The town centre is owned by a variety of different companies and organisations which historically has made an overall regeneration scheme difficult to devise and implement.
Cllr Dearing said: “The idea of the town centre deliver plan is to get people living back in the town centre. We have a cafe culture and we will be supporting this by the seats on streets initiative that will be voted on by full council this week.”
The seats on streets scheme involves a changing of the licensing process to make it easier and cheaper for businesses to have seats and tables for customers outside their businesses.
The police station closed its doors for the final time in June this year although operations had run from the new northern hub on the North Kettering Business Park since September 2017.
Regeneration specialists are already engaged and are drafting ideas for what the London Road scheme will look like.
The design plans should come to before the council’s executive committee for consideration before the end of the year. Cllr Dearing said he is hopeful work will have started by May 2020.
The councillor would not reveal how much the authority has agreed to pay for the police station.
Opposition councillor Mick Scrimshaw said he was in favour of regeneration but expressed concern that the matter was agreed in private without opposition councillors or the press able to listen to discussions.
Sarah Ward, Local Democracy Reporter