Hope for Kettering high street as council lines up another multi-million pound bid

Big name retailers have been disappearing from Kettering's high street in recent years.
Big name retailers have been disappearing from Kettering's high street in recent years.

Kettering Council is applying for another multi-million-pound funding pot after missing out on the Government’s flagship high street regeneration project.

The authority has brushed itself down after the disappointment last week of not making through to the final 51 high streets who could receive a share of the £675m the Government has put up to breathe new life into the country’s run-down high streets.

Northampton was the only one of the county’s shopping walks to make it through to the next round of the bid and is now in with a chance of winning up to £25m to spend on improvements.

But the council says it has a plan B and will submit an expression of interest before the deadline this Friday (July 12) to a heritage funding pot.

A spokesman said: “It was a very competitive process as there were over 300 applications and as such it is with great disappointment that Kettering town centre has not been taken forward to the next stage.

“We are now working hard on a bid to another funding source for town centres called the Heritage Action Zone that is being managed by Historic England. Bids can only be made by town centres in conservation areas, which Kettering fulfils, and must obviously have a heritage/historic element.

“The maximum bid is up to £2m and this must be matched by the local authority and runs across a four-year programme.

“An expression of interest that fulfils the criteria will cover a shop front grant scheme, public realm such as street furniture, way-finding, gateway features, historic interpretation, a town centre conservation programme manager, professional support for property owners to develop their shops and above the shop, a cultural services officer, heritage building grants and a living over the shop scheme, along with a promotion and marketing programme.”

It was revealed recently that the council has £3.8m set aside for town centre improvements that have sat in the bank unused for the past decade.

During that time the high street, like many others across the country, has declined with big name stores such as Marks & Spencer, WHSmith, Top Shop, Burton and New Look all moving out.

Leader of the Labour opposition at Kettering Council Cllr Mick Scrimshaw, who is part of a working party looking at town centre regeneration, said there is a potential to make more of the heritage of the town.

He said: “I’m not surprised that we did not get any further with the Future High Street Funds bid as there were a lot of councils bidding for the money.

“I hope we now get an opportunity to look and analyse the bid and see if there are any parts of it we would like to take forward.

“The authority has sat on millions for the past 10 years that has been set aside for town centre improvements – what on earth are they waiting for? How much further does the town centre have to fall?”

Unlike Northampton Borough Council , the Kettering authority had not shared details of its bid application with the public.

Earlier this year the Kettering Town Partnership formed, made up of local business owners and retail experts. It has been surveying business owners and shoppers to see what they want for the town centre and been working with the council.

The authority is set to improve Meadow Road Park with new play areas, seating and new fitness zone.

There is also a seven-year improvement plan which involves ideas such as a station quarter and remodelling parts of the town centre.