Task group set up to create a new vision for Kettering town centre

A new plan for Kettering town centre will be drawn up.
A new plan for Kettering town centre will be drawn up.

A new vision for Kettering town centre is going to be drawn up.

Kettering councillors agreed at a meeting last night to set up a new working party to look at some new ideas for the future of the central shopping destination.

The council will be bidding for a £25m fund from the government to revamp the high street and the new vision will form part of the bid application.

The idea of the working group was put forward by Labour opposition leader Cllr Mick Scrimshaw who has been campaigning for the council to come up with some new plans for the town centre.

He said: “I’m really pleased that at last the council has agreed to do something about this.

“In the past there have been small plans, such as the recent changes to Eskdail Street but we need to look at the collective future. What do all the ideas add up to?

“Retail is changing and we have to accept that, but what does it mean? What do people want to see from their town centre?

“It is harder sometimes to deal with things that are not in the council’s control such as rent and business rates, but we need to have a vision for the future.”

The authority does not own the town centre but has responsibility for a number of key areas such as parking and littering and it also runs the popular museum and art gallery.

The group will be looking at other areas in the country which have successfully turned their high street around. Cllr Scrimshaw is also keen to have an input from the public.

The task and finish group will be made up of councillors who express an interest as well as co-opted members of the local business community.

The moneys that the council will be bidding for are part of the recently launched £675m Future High Street Fund. The Government asked retailer Sir John Timpson to come up with some ideas of how to regenerate the nation’s suffering high streets and he recommended setting up the fund and also a High Streets Taskforce to give advice to local leaders.

The bidding process is expected to be highly competitive with many entries from across the country.