First look at Poppies’ possible new ground

Outline plans which show the indicative layout of the ground Kettering Town want to build at the former Avondale School site
Outline plans which show the indicative layout of the ground Kettering Town want to build at the former Avondale School site

Kettering Town have seen their plans for a potential return to the town backed by residents during a consultation event.

The plans were announced in a letter sent to residents living near Avondale Primary School.

The letter revealed that the Poppies were hoping to move into the vacant school alongside an unnamed healthcare partner, and that they would convert the former school playing fields into a new ground.

Club chairman Ritchie Jeune hosted a consultation event at the Crescent Community Centre earlier this week, where residents were invited to see an indicative plan of how the site could look as well as making comments for or against the plans.

The vote showed 112 voters were in favour of the move, while 17 were against.

Mr Jeune said he had received comments both for and against the plans.

Those against were worried about possible anti-social behaviour and parking issues.

He said: “There has not been trouble at a Kettering Town match for many years, and we have made it clear that if people have been drinking, they will not get into the ground in the first place.”

A 500-seater stand would be built as part of the plans, as well as two terraces.

Mr Jeune said the site will have car parking for an estimated 150-180 vehicles. The Rockingham Road ground had space for about 100 cars.

Northamptonshire County Council owns the Avondale School site, and has submitted its own outline proposals to build 72 homes there.

However, Mr Jeune said this would not have any bearing on the club’s intentions.

He added: “The council plan at the moment is at outline stage, and it does not prevent us from submitting our own plans.”

If the plan does go ahead, Mr Jeune said that the club could make a swift return to the town, and he did not rule out a potential return next season.

He added: “The pitch is already there and we can move temporary stands in relatively quickly.”

The club says it would also offer rooms and office facilities such as printing and Wi-fi inside the former school to small businesses.

Kettering councillor Michael Brown said: “I very much support Ritchie’s vision.

“The results of the consultation were crystal clear, a ratio of three-to-one of people living in the immediate area support these plans, six-to-one in the wider area support these plans and I too would like to see this happen, subject to the club obtaining planning permission and being able to afford the site.

“I think it would be a good idea for everyone to start working together to make this vision a reality.”