Construction begins on Kettering £3.9m GLaM project
The re-modelled building is set to open in Spring 2022
Taking part in the ground-breaking ceremony today (Monday) was Kettering mayor, Scott Edwards and North Northants Council deputy leader Cllr Helen Howell.
Demolition of parts of the existing site started to make way for the glass and brick GSS Architecture-designed extension to Kettering's cultural showpiece buildings, in a project known as GLaM.
Cllr Howell said: "I'm delighted to have been on site to see the start of this very important project for Kettering town centre."
The project will see new and upgraded facilites for the heritage quarter with the bulk of the funding - £3m - secured from SEMLEP as part of the Getting Building Fund.
Judith Barker, SEMLEP's director of programmes and governance said: "Our ambition is to make the South East Midlands a place here people want to live, entrepreneurs build businesses and communities visit.
"The GLaM project not only creates a creative and cultural anchor for north Northamptonshire but enhances the town, the life of residents and support our visitor economy. We're proud to support the development of the extension."
As well as upgraded facilities for the gallery, the GLaM will house a new café with outdoor space and an events space with views across the Manor House gardens.
Andrew Vallis, associate and project architect at GSS Architecture, said: "It's a tremendous opportunity to be involved in this project. We take great professional pride building on the reputation of our firm. Our firm built the gallery in 1913, we have offices two minutes away. We walk past the building every day.
"It will be the first time that the different elements of the building will be working together - the gallery, and the library."
Improvements will be made to accessibility for wheelchair users and include a changing space. The gallery will have its storage and galleries brought up to the standards required with the Government Indemnity Scheme (GIS) allowing art loans from other sites.
Contractor GF Tomlinson will build the two-storey, brick and glass extension.
Carl Wiltshire, framework and preconstruction development manager at GF Tomlinson, said: "We are proud to be starting works on site to create a cultural hub for local residents and visitors to enjoy, complete with new and upgraded facilities and additional events and workshop spaces."
In order to provide on-going ecological advice and monitor the works being undertaken particularly in relation to bats, a Natural England bat licensed ecologist has been appointed as 'ecological clerk of works' for the project and will undertake regular site visits, as well as maintaining communication with the construction company.
To ensure the site continues to provide roosting opportunities for bats, the library roof will be replaced with 18 bat access tiles to provide continued access to the underlying voids.
The Northants Telegraph understands that there are currently there are no bats roosting on the site but that if bats were found in the roof space, work would have to stop until a licence had been sought from Natural England.