Kettering High Street revamp gets mixed reaction as pavement work under way

It is part of the Kettering High Street Heritage Action Zone project

By Alison Bagley
Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 6:01 am

Work to 'improve the look and feel' of Kettering town centre has got under way with the replacement of the block paved surface with stone slabs in High Street.

Contractors Balfour Beatty have started work, on behalf of North Northamptonshire Council (NNC), beginning with the stretch from Market Street to Meadow Road.

The works are part of the Kettering High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) project, a £4m partnership between NNC and Historic England.

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Work to replace the block paving in Kettering High Street has started to a mixed reaction

But there has been a mixed reaction to the improvements - part of a project to revitalise and improve the look and feel of the town centre with readers of the Northants Telegraph voicing their opinion on the renovations.

Sam Cottrell said: "What’s the point of doing this when the shops are all rubbish there’s about five shops that are any good? People won’t be coming to see the floor - waste of money."

Agreeing, Samie Beth said: "What a waste of money. Be best used to reduce rent costs for shops to encourage more shops or reduce parking costs to bring in more shoppers - total waste."

But Alan Manser wanted to see the finished project.

The existing block paving will be removed

He said: "Can we see how it looks when it’s finished, then complain if not happy? This project has nothing to do with the council, it’s from the heritage fund to make the town centre look better."

Sandra Fernandes-Neto concurred saying: "I would like to see some cohesion about shop frontages, these need to be smart and follow a consistent image. I also think there must be a drive to bring in more decent shops, take a look at Market Harborough.

"Anything to improve the look is good news but retail is also key. Instead of buying commercial buildings outside of town, use some money to buy the high street retail units back and offer decent rents and rates to encourage new retailers into town."

Terri Bett pointed out that the existing pavement had started to subside and as a wheelchair user the current block paving provided an uncomfortable surface.

The work part of a £4million project will be finished in the summer of 2022

She said: "Those bricks are dangerous. People have fallen and hurt themselves due to them sinking and causing big huge dips - very dangerous underfoot, especially for older people. And believe me it will so be much nicer and less painful for wheelchair users.

"The dips I have to avoid are plenty and it isn't easy to self propel on bumpy surfaces. It is about time they were removed. More seating is needed, not everyone can walk around town without stopping for a rest .

"People are always going to moan. Especially when they are not aware of the reasoning behind it and where exactly the money has come from. It isn't as simple as a decision made by a few council folk.

"The funds are often not allowed to used for other things. Policy makes it the situation of use it or lose it next year.

Contractors working in Kettering High Street

"I won't be the only disabled person in Kettering that feels this is fabulous news. I don't want our high street to die and not be used. This is what has been much needed for years ."

Martin Short added: "Improving the town centre is fully welcomed, but this needs to be just the start of a much bigger overhaul, new business is needed in empty shops - frontages and general look has to be improved , so plenty more work required, but at least a step in the right direction."

The work is due to be completed by summer this year.

Cllr David Brackenbury, NNC’s executive member for growth and regeneration, said at the start of the work: "The improvements will make such a difference to Kettering town centre and unlock more of the town’s potential, which is even more important, after such a difficult couple of years for our high streets."

As part of the works new street trees will be planted with replacement pavement and road surfaces, new seating and bins.

The project hopes to encourage visitors to look up at Kettering’s fine historic buildings.

Building owners will also benefit from the HSHAZ scheme with grants available for building repairs, shop front improvements and building conversions.

The final words go to two opposing views, firstly from Scott Lawrence. He said: "Like putting lipstick on a pig. Can't make something that is worthless, priceless."

Whereas Wayne Clark said: "Despite all that are moaning I think they look a lot better."

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Work to 'improve the look and feel' of Kettering town centre to start next week