Unhappy councillors defer Kettering town centre flat block plan due to paperwork error

A decision on the plan to turn part of this Lower Street building into a flat block has been deferred.
A decision on the plan to turn part of this Lower Street building into a flat block has been deferred.

A planning decision about flat block conversion in Kettering town centre has been deferred because councillors could not read the papers.

There was annoyance at Kettering planning committee last night (Jul 2) as for the second planning meeting in a row, councillors had complaints about the print on the documents being so small that it was illegible.

The committee had been due to make a decision about whether to grant permission to convert the former telephone exchange building in Lower Street into 33 flats.

Cllr Mark Rowley was among the disgruntled members.

He said: “The plans are too small, and we can’t read them. We are being asked to approve something where we can’t read the papers. This is something we have complained about for at least two years. We need to get it sorted out.”

The councillors also had concerns that planning officers were not able to quickly answer queries. They were told that the case officer who had prepared the documents was not at the meeting.

Aside from the administrative issues the councillors also raised concerns about the development, which proposes to add an additional third floor to the building, which contains the working post office. There will not be any parking provided for the development, with residents having to pay to park in the nearby Wadcroft Car Park or find on-street parking.

Concerns were made about bin storage and bike storage – which is planned for the first floor so that residents would have to put their bike into the lift.

Conservative Cllr Howes said by not providing spaces the development would create a ‘considerable nuisance’.

He said: “There is literally nowhere for people to park. I can’t imagine that people are going to put their car into a municipal car park permanently – that is going to cost them a fortune.”

Fellow conservative Cllr Marks said it “was not a good development but people had to live somewhere”.

He said: “It is trying to shove as many people in as small an area as possible, which is not good. But people have to live somewhere, particularly the poor who may not own homes.” Labour Cllr Linda Adams had an issue with the parking and the amount of flats being shoehorned into the building.

She said: “At what point do we say the town centre is full?

“I’m worried that we are losing out on quality. Where is the looks of the town centre in this?

Cllr Marks said the aesthetics of that part of the town had been lost 40 years earlier.

The decision was deferred due to the eligibility of the papers and also to ask the applicant to consider reducing the number of flats in the conversion.