Kettering's High Street revamp gets further £500,000 boost

It will be used to extend the current scheme to the north

By Sam Wildman
Thursday, 17th February 2022, 7:00 am

Another six-figure sum will be added to the pot for the revamp of Kettering' s High Street after a successful funding bid.

Work is currently ongoing in the town centre with pavements being ripped up and relaid ahead of the installation of new trees, seating and bins.

It's part of the Kettering High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) project, a £4m partnership between North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) and Historic England, to improve the town centre.

Contractors on-site in Kettering High Street.

And now another £500,000 will be spent on extending the project after Historic England offered the scheme extra cash from national projected underspend.

It will see the current work extended from Bewiched to near Greggs, with hopes it will be complete by the summer.

Cllr David Brackenbury (Con), NNC's executive member for growth and regeneration, said: "It's going to make it look a lot better and I think Kettering is long deserving of it.

"The town centre has been a little bit unloved for some time.

How the High Street could look.

"I think this scheme will help bring in new investment and new opportunities."

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.

There's been a mixed reaction to the scheme so far, with town residents branding the work as anything between "much nicer" to "like putting lipstick on a pig".

The extra funding is conditional on the council spending the additional £503,631 by March 31 this year, which they say is considered achievable with contractors already on-site and extra staff committed.

They also plan to delay carrying out the works in Meadow Road, which is outside the conservation area and so not eligible for Historic England funding, until it has completed that part of the scheme funded by Historic England.

NNC's executive committee will meet next week to formally approve the acceptance of the additional cash, which has already been accepted by council bosses. If councillors took an extremely surprising decision not to accept the money, the council would refund it using its own contribution to the scheme.

Councillors will also be asked to agree to an extension of the High Street Heritage Action Zone boundary to incorporate Sawyer’s Almshouses, built in 1688, and the Manor House Gardens in Sheep Street.

There are concerns that the Grade II listed almshouses have fallen into a poor state of repair and a detailed survey is needed urgently. It's estimated that a survey and repairs could cost between £5,000 and £30,000. An application for these funds would normally be accepted in the HSHAZ scheme but the almshouses are outside the current boundary. If the condition of the property is very poor, there’s an opportunity to submit an application to Historic England for a regional grant to cover the cost of the building’s restoration.