Almost £4m to be spent on revamping Kettering's cultural hub

The library, museum and art gallery in Sheep Street will have an expensive makeover

Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 12:42 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 12:45 pm
The town's library will have 1m spent on it.

Kettering’s library, museum and art gallery will be given a £3.9m makeover following funding from government and the borough and county councils.

The three adjacent Grade II listed buildings in Sheep Street which are collectively labelled GLaM (Kettering Gallery, Library and Museum) are being renovated as part of an ambition by the borough council to establish the area as the ‘cultural anchor’ for North Northamptonshire.

A total of £867,000 will be spent on an internal refurbishment of the library plus another £300,000 on a new roof. £1.6m will be spent on an extension to the Alfred East Art Gallery with another £163,000 spent on an internal renovation. And the Manor House museum will have £800,000 spent on an internal spruce up and £200,000 spent on its gardens.

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The bulk of the cash has come from a £3m grant from the government’s Get Building fund , after a bid through the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) with a further £640,000 from Kettering Council’s reserves and Northamptonshire County Council has also given £300,000.

A report to the executive council meeting last night said: “Our collective ambition for GLaM is to become a Cultural Anchor for North Northamptonshire. Whilst the facilities are valued and well used, there are key physical constraints which prevent them from elevating and transforming into a visitor destination. The aim of this project is to improve these assets and diversify their uses in order to change the way communities access and engage with culture and creative industries, unlock economic growth through skills development, job creation and boosting the visitor economy.”

The concept for the scheme began in 2018 and the borough council has been working with the county authority to progress the scheme. A feasibility study was carried out last year and the council found out last month it had been awarded the grant, with final contracts to be signed next month. There is a tight timescale attached to the funding, with planning permission needed by December this year and the scheme must be completed by December 2020.

The council has brought in external consultants to work with it on the project and the expectation is that capital works will be completed by January 2022.

The museum, which closed due to Covid restrictions, will remain closed until after the building works are complete.

The new works will run alongside the heritage action zone project which will involve another £4m being spent on renovating the public realm.

The improvements come after years of criticism about the town centre, which has undergone severe decline in the past decade and lost its flagship high street stores and some customers to Rushden Lakes.