Kettering’s Newlands centre upgrade ‘going to plan’

The Newlands centre in Kettering
The Newlands centre in Kettering

The manager of a town’s shopping centre says vital renovation work which will bring the site ‘kicking and screaming into the 21st century’ is making good progress.

A phased series of improvements to the Newlands centre in Kettering has been in progress since 2012.

The latest stage of the project is nearly halfway through, and it follows the installation of new toilets and a breastfeeding lounge last autumn.

Investment management company Ellandi, which bought the centre nearly two years ago, has provided the funds needed to give a facelift to the Gold Street site.

And work on the floors, ceilings and lighting, which began in the middle of June, is due to be completed by the autumn, according to centre manager Neil Griffin.

He said: “It’s a 16-week project so it’s not due to finish until the end of September.

“It’s a lot of work but it is needed. Some of it is over 40 years old.

“It is a pain at the moment but it will be a gain when it’s finished. It’s to bring the centre kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

“It’s needed investment for years and suddenly it’s got it.

“To get to the end result, it is all looking positive at the moment.”

Once the current stage of the renovation is completed, a total facelift of the centre’s entrances on Gold Street and Tanners Lane will get under way.

Mr Griffin said all the work had been timed to take place away from the Christmas holidays, so it did not disturb festive shoppers.

Kettering Council, Northamptonshire Highways and bus company Stagecoach are also working together to try to improve the look of Newland Street, including getting rid of its green lean-to bus shelters.

Mr Griffin added: “One of the negatives looking at it [the centre] is the bus bays.

“They need to be there but they have gone past their sell-by date.”

Kettering councillors discussed the improvements at a meeting of its executive committee on Wednesday last week.

At the meeting, members endorsed the progress of the current work but also emphasised the council’s desire to improve the adjacent Newland Street.

Kettering council’s economic regeneration manager Alex Jelley said of the Newland Street plans in a report which was presented to the executive committee: “We are grateful to the county council for 
ensuring that this scheme is approached as a priority project.

“The first element of this is likely to involve the replacement of the existing bus shelters with a more contemporary, less enclosed design.”