Kettering heritage hub to be glammed up with £3.9 million cultural boost
It is hoped GLaM - Kettering Gallery, Library and Museum - will be a 'cultural anchor'
Kettering’s library, museum and art gallery will be given a £3.9 million makeover following funding from government and the borough and county councils after plans were approved by councillors.
The three adjacent Grade II listed buildings in Sheep Street which are collectively labelled GLaM (Kettering Gallery, Library and Museum) will be renovated to create a ‘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.
£1.6 million will be spent on an extension to the Alfred East Art Gallery with another £163,000 spent on an internal renovation.
The bulk of the cash has come from a £3 million 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.
Cllr Mark Dearing, portfolio holder for regeneration at Kettering Council, said: “We are absolutely delighted that planning permission has been approved.
“The Gallery, Library and Museum (GLaM) are a tremendous asset and resource, and the upcoming development will strengthen community links, support creative businesses, and visitors will be able to enjoy an array of exciting, new amenities.
“GLaM will harness local passion, creativity, innovation, skills, ideas and develop local talent to grow the economy through culture led regeneration building on a century’s worth of cultural investment.”
Renovations that feature in the plans to the Manor House museum are being put on hold as the £800,000 needed for the work has still to be sourced - with the Blitz Tea Rooms and Jazz Lounge staying in the Coach House as revealed by this newspaper.Entrepreneurs and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) will be able to gain free access to a wide range of business support in the upgraded facilities and flexible events and workshop space.
It is hoped that the investment will encourage more visitors into the town's cultural heart and boost employment.
Rochelle Mathieson, head of commercial development at Kettering Council, said: “This exciting investment will act as a catalyst for change, supporting our local economy to thrive, and for our residents and visitors to enjoy an improved cultural facility.
“Cultural-led regeneration is a fundamental element of delivering Kettering town centre’s vision to be a vibrant place at the heart of the community that is characterful, distinctive, and fun."
Kettering-based GSSArchitecture will lead the refurbishment, redevelopment and extension of the GLaM continuing a long-standing connection to the buildings.
The Grade II Listed Alfred East Art Gallery was built more than 100 years ago, with the original designs being drawn up by John A. Gotch, the founder of GSSArchitecture.
William Assheton, GSS practice partner, said: “We are delighted that GSS have this opportunity to return to a site where the founder of the practice worked over 100 years ago, to continue building upon the great work that John A. Gotch carried out in Northamptonshire.
"Having recently delivered similar upgrades to the Northampton Museum & Art Gallery, we are pleased to once again be working on a project that is of such historical and cultural significance to the county.”
Once complete, the entire site will be renamed Kettering GLaM to mark the Gallery, Library and Museum becoming one unified site.
The proposal seeks to further connect the three buildings through the creation of a new piazza, as well as opening up the existing landscape to draw people through the spaces, making this an attractive new area for the public to enjoy.
Cllr Lizzy Bowen, deputy leader of Northamptonshire County Council, said: “It’s excellent news that this project has been given planning permission and is able to continue moving forward.
“This exciting project will see the Gallery, Library and Museum revitalised and extended to become a cultural hub at the heart of Kettering town centre, whilst also boosting the local economy and supporting local businesses.”
Hilary Chipping, chief executive of SEMLEP, said: “When we return to life after lockdown, we will relish the opportunity to enjoy our much loved and much missed arts and cultural spaces.
“SEMLEP recognises the contribution places like GLaM make to our towns and communities, positively impacting our individual wellbeing through to boosting our local economy.
"The improvement will be an asset to Kettering.”