Kettering building site gets higher as yet another floor added

The block of flats granted retrospective planning permission for four storeys has since had a fifth added - now brick walls have been constructed on a sixth

The sky’s the limit for a Kettering town centre apartment block – the development site where breaches of planning law have already taken place.

In 2019, Michigan Construction Ltd had been granted retrospective planning permission to develop the site next to the Prince of Wales pub in Job’s Yard for a four-storey block of nine flats.

But since the decision to overturn the refused plans, the Kettering-based construction company began adding an extra fifth floor – with planning permission reliant on an appeal.

The Job's Yard apartments development, Kettering, showing the walls on the roof.

After two temporary stop notices were issued by North Northamptonshire Council (NNC), Michigan Construction Ltd appealed to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate.

As the company’s owner Marcus Fielding waits for the decision, construction has been continuing with the risk that any building above the fourth storey could be ordered to be demolished.

A stop notice issued in August 2021 by NNC stated that the builder was to cease ‘all construction activity associated with the building of a five-storey block of flats - other than limited work required to make this site safe’ adding the reason for the notice being issued as ‘a fifth floor is being constructed unlawfully following the grant of planning permission under KT/2019/0908 which was for four storeys only’.

Work has continued, covered by the appeal process. Since the extra fifth floor was completed, work has gone on and recently concrete block walls on the roof have been spotted growing over neighbouring buildings. Seen from the air the new walls form what it appears to be two rooms serviced by a stairwell.

The development is next to the Prince of Wales pub

Concerned members of Kettering Civic Society have contacted ward councillors where the construction has been taking place.

A spokesman for Kettering Civic Society said: “We're very angry about the building. The building that has been put up in no way resembles the one that received planning approval in December 2019. Approval was not for six storeys, but four. The building as it stands, overshadows the flats opposite, where residents have to leave lights on all day. It dwarfs the historic 'Prince of Wales' public house next door. The building is not in context with the Toller Meeting rooms that not only have great architectural merit but is in the Heritage Quarter.

“The developers are making a mockery of the planning process. It is the Civic Society's view that the whole building be demolished due to unlawful building.

"We look forward to a positive outcome, not only for the residents in the opposite property but also for good design and quality of building and lawful planning of Kettering town centre.

The roof of the apartments

”The society feels that the Planning Inspectorate should be held to account for allowing a previous appeal to be allowed.

“The inspector visited Kettering from another town having no knowledge or sympathy for the importance of Toller Church, not only architecturally but also historically.

“The Civic Society feels strongly that this case is taken to a higher authority – Parliament – through our MP Philip Hollobone.”

Concerns had been raised previously by Kettering Civic Society on behalf of the Toller Church that the flats – to be built with no car parking spaces – in the Kettering Conservation Area would add traffic down the narrow Meeting Lane, and affect neighbours by blocking out light and affecting their privacy.

The five storey building now has another set of walls being added to the roof

Minister of the Toller Church, Rev Helen Wakefield-Carr, said: "There’s no respect for the law. It’s gone up higher and higher. One member of our church who lives on the ground floor opposite the apartments now has no natural light.”

Despite objections, the Planning Inspectorate granted a previous appeal saying: “I find that the appeal proposal [the flats] would not harm the character and appearance of the area, including the setting of the Kettering Conservation Area, with particular regard to scale, mass and design.

“Furthermore, the appeal proposal would not impose any greater harm to the living conditions of neighbouring residential properties than the fall-back position that would be unacceptable.”

The current average wait time for written appeals lodged with the Planning Inspectorate is 55 weeks.

TIMELINE OF JOB’S YARD

2008: An original planning application in 2008 for four shopping units and six one bedroom flats was approved by Kettering Borough Council (KBC)

Architect's plans showed four floors, with a stepped frontage

2012: The same application was approved again with changes to the number of retail units - now one shop and seven apartments

2015: A change to the planning to 14 flats is refused by KBC

As only limited works have been undertaken on the site, Michigan Construction Ltd advised to submit a fresh application for the site.

2018: Work starts illegally in 2018 on the shop and seven apartments three-storey building. The company applied for retrospective planning permission. Due to time constraints the developer cannot resolve all conditions placed by the planning committee and an application to ‘discharge conditions’ is refused on December 5, 2018. Permission is lapsed.

2019: April – an application for 14 apartments is submitted and refused by KBC

2019: August – an application for 10 apartments is submitted and refused by KBC

2019: December – Approval given for three shops and seven flats a Section 73A retrospective application

2020: March – Application to change planning permission to nine apartments but refused by KBC

2021: January – Planning permission for nine apartments - six one-bedroom and three two-bedroom - granted after an appeal to the Government's Planning Inspectorate overturning KBC’s decision. New plans increase height from three to four storeys with a stepped profile to set the upper storeys back further from neighbours

2021: August – A temporary stop notice is issued on August 2, after a fifth storey is started. The notice expires on August 30, 2021

2021: September – A second stop notice is issued on September 8 stating that to ‘remedy the breach of planning control’, the firm must ‘permanently remove the fifth storey’

2021: November – Michigan Construction Ltd lodges an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate for the erection of eleven apartments. Work continues on the fifth storey

2022: January – All comments to the Planning Inspectorate to be made by January 10, 2022

2022: April – A sixth floor is begun.

Michigan Construction has a base in Robinson Way, on the Telford Way Industrial Estate, Kettering, but the company office is registered in Towcester and is owned by Marcus Fielding.

Mr Fielding has been contacted for comment.

All three North Northamptonshire Council ward councillors were approached by this newspaper but did not wish to comment.

The extra brickwork can be seen from Horsemarket
Plans for the four floors