An indoor market for Kettering's old M&S store? Councillors exploring site's potential - and want to hear from you

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What would you like to see the site become?

Councillors have been exploring the potential of turning Kettering’s old M&S store into an indoor market – and they want to hear your thoughts.

The town suffered a devastating blow when the retail giant shut its doors in High Street in 2018 and it has not been used as a shop since.

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It was leased by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as a temporary job centre but was decommissioned a year ago without ever welcoming a single jobseeker.

Cllr Emily Fedorowycz outside the former M&S storeCllr Emily Fedorowycz outside the former M&S store
Cllr Emily Fedorowycz outside the former M&S store

But now the possibility of new life being breathed into the site is being looked at, in the hope a business case can be built and an investor can be found.

Cllr Emily Fedorowycz (Green) said: “Over the years so many people have asked me if the old Marks and Spencer store could be turned into an indoor market – even my grandma! I also have thought this would be a good idea and have begun exploring how this could be done, and the first step is to get public support for the idea and build a business case.

“It is important to acknowledge that the building has some issues and the lease agreement is complex which has worked against other investors coming in in the past, so we know doing something here won’t be fast or easy. But if we don’t try to explore this, then we will never know if it has potential.

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“The reality is, even if this has a strong business case and a willing investor, it might take years to secure just because of the other complexities mentioned. But my view is we have to make a start."

M&S closed in 2018M&S closed in 2018
M&S closed in 2018

There had been limited interest in the retail space after M&S closed, although the Northants Telegraph was told discussions were held with discounter Poundstretcher months before it entered into a company voluntary arrangement (CVA).

We understood the site was held on a full repairing and insuring lease until March 2027 – meaning any tenant would have to take on all of the costs for repairs and insurance.

It was then bought by a London property investment company for more than £2m in August 2022 but has remained empty, although G4S staff guarded it during the DWP lease period.

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The DWP refused to say how much money their refurbishment cost, saying it was ‘commercially sensitive’.

Cllr Fedorowycz has asked for people’s thoughts on the building’s future. It is not a formal council consultation but is being used to scope people’s views.

She said: “It’s vital we all begin sharing our views about what we want to see in our town centres because to make them thrive again we have to reinvent them – people shop differently and go out for different reasons now, so we need to all play a part in shaping what our town centres look like.

"The key thing is, even if this building isn’t possible to use, we can still use this feedback for other town centre spaces, so it’s all really valuable to gather.

"I hope people can spread this link far and wide so we can get a really good insight into what people want to see.”

To give your feedback on the proposals, click here.