Mixed reaction to Kettering renovation plans

Plans for Gold Street, Kettering, have been published
Plans for Gold Street, Kettering, have been published

There has been a mixed reaction to council plans to revamp and pedestrianise parts of the town centre.

Kettering Council has begun a consultation on proposals which could see complete pedestrianisation, improved street furniture, lighting and more disabled parking installed in Gold Street and High Street.

The plans also include various options for improving what has been dubbed the town square – the area once known as Bakehouse Hill, where Lower Street, Gold Street and High Street meet. The work would be paid for by developers.

Matt Fountain, the owner of Bewiched coffee shop in the High Street, said he welcomed the proposals, particularly if the surface was improved for people on foot.

“It’s long overdue that this area is pedestrianised, as opposed to a half-way house,” he said.

“I don’t think it will do any harm to business at all. Any improvement to the town centre is money well spent.”

Cllr Derek Zanger, portfolio holder for town centres, has encouraged people to give their feedback online or at the consultation shop, which opens in Gold Street tomorrow.

He added: “Local people care passionately about their town and we want to ensure that we are making it a place that they feel proud of and where they can enjoy spending time.”

Paul Ansell, chairman of the Kettering Civic Society, said the plans had to be part of a wider effort to revitalise the town centre in order to attract shoppers back.

“It will move the town forward and regenerate it, which is important,” he said.

He also said the town had to get its act together so it offered shoppers something different from Leicester and Milton Keynes.

“If the triangular area [where Gold Street and High Street join] is given a new flavour the next thing which has to happen is the council themselves have to be positive,” he added.

But one market seller who said it was becoming less and less worthwhile setting up his stall in Kettering revealed he was sceptical about whether the changes would have much influence on trade.

Aaron Taylor, from Leicester, who works on a market stall in the High Street four days a week, said more still needed to be done to encourage businesses to move to the town.

He said: “Which shops would you come to Kettering for?”

The council hopes more market stalls will be able to set up in the town as a result of the improvements, but Mr Taylor doubted it would have much effect. He added: “You can put a stall up anywhere.”