Finally! Kettering town centre awarded windfall of up to £2m

Kettering town centre. Picture by Alison Bagley.
Kettering town centre. Picture by Alison Bagley.

Up to £2m will be spent on revitalising Kettering's high street after the town was given a cash injection.

Today (Saturday) Kettering has been announced by Historic England as one of 69 areas to share a £95m pot as part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone project.

Kettering Council will now work with Historic England to agree a programme which will confirm the level of funding and what it should be spent on. This should be completed by January with the project going live in April.

It's a welcome boost after the disappointment of being overlooked for other rounds of funding. Last week nearby Corby - which has had more invested in its town centre in recent years - was named among the first 100 places in the country to benefit from the Government’s £3.6bn Town’s Fund.

Kettering MP Philip Hollobone said the announcement was great news for the town.

He said: "Injection of Government funding into our historic town centre will be welcomed by everyone.

"Kettering Council, Kettering Civic Society and the other local groups who supported the successful bid are to be warmly congratulated."

The funding comes after the council submitted an expression of interest for £1.985m over four years in July.

Cllr Mark Dearing, Kettering Council’s portfolio holder for regeneration, said: “It’s fantastic news for the people and businesses of Kettering that we will receive funding to help support our historic high street.

"We are looking forward to working with Historic England and the local community on this exciting project and we are hopeful for the future prospects of the area.”

The funding can be used for a variety of projects including:

● Completing essential repair works in historic buildings and revealing forgotten features of buildings by restoring shop fronts and facades.

● Stimulating commercial investment in high streets by demonstrating how historic sites can be successfully re-purposed.

● Developing education projects and bespoke events to help re-position historic buildings as community hubs at the heart of local towns and villages.

● Helping address the UK-wide skills shortage of heritage professionals in expert fields like stonemasonry and conservation by providing local property owners, residents and businesses with the opportunity to train in these areas.

Davina Parkhouse, from the Kettering Town Centre Partnership, said: "I am absolutely gobsmacked and delighted. I honestly think that this town can be turned around."

Kettering Council's opposition leader Cllr Mick Scrimshaw said: "This is extremely good news. The town centre working group has said it would be good to promote the heritage aspects and it can all bring tourism into Kettering's town centre."

In recent years big names such as Marks and Spencer, Burton, Topshop and New Look have all left Kettering's town centre.

Lisa Hyde, executive director at Kettering Council, said the funding will help them re-generate the town centre as a social hub.

She said: “High streets are the beating hearts of communities, with roots that go back hundreds of years.

"Through physical improvements and cultural activities, this funding will help us find new ways to regenerate the town centre as a thriving social hub.

"We’d also like to thank the local community groups who contributed to the council’s funding bid.”

Independent Cllr Michael Brown said: “I’m very happy to see this, I moved a motion at council to compel them to chase these sorts of grants.

"The motion got unanimous support from all parties and we are finally seeing some good results thanks to the hard work of our officers and external partners such as the town partnership.

"This will be a much needed boost for Kettering if spent in the right ways.”