An ambitious project to link Corby rail station and the town’s shopping centre has to be completed within two years or hundreds of thousands of pounds will have to be handed back to a developer.
Corby Walk was put forward more than a decade ago by then-chief executive Chris Mallender and council leader Cllr Pat Fawcett as part of a raft of policies aimed at regenerating the town.
But while the other plans such as the international swimming pool and Corby Cube have come forward, Corby Walk has stalled. The last time a report about the scheme went before councillors was in 2014. Greatline Developments paid the council £790,000 in 2011 as part of the planning conditions to develop the Tesco superstore on the St James’ industrial estate. A sum of £535,000 of the funds was specifically for cycle link improvements.
However, eight years after receiving the funds, only the start and end of the walk have been paved and the miles of connecting routes have not been progressed. Under planning rules if Corby Walk is scrapped or the money not spent within 10 years it will go back to the developer.
The council’s chief executive Norman Stronach said officers had been in talks with colleagues from Northamptonshire County Council about the scheme.
He said: “We are currently looking at alternative projects aimed at improving pedestrian or cycling connectivity from the rail station back into the town centre either along the Cottingham Road or Oakley Road route or both and had had some initial discussions with the county council about this.”
As part of the plans the council had put forward three possible routes.
Route one, which was the most ambitious, was to connect the station and the town centre via a straight route through the town centre, through Stuart Road and along the green space near to Tresham College. However, this route would involve an expensive bridge across the railway line and is unlikely to go ahead in the near future.
Route 2 would involve going along Cottingham Road and down Elizabeth Street, connecting to Corporation Street, and Route 3 would go along Oakley Road and join the bottom end of Elizabeth Street before joining Corporation Street.
Mr Stronach said: “Network Rail have recently improved both vehicular and pedestrian access along Route 2, Cottingham Road, via their work on the railway bridge to accommodate line improvements. This assists our proposals for that route.”
The authority had to give back £79,000 of 106 monies connected to the Corby Walk to Tresham College in July 2016. The college had given £100,000 to the council as part of planning conditions for its then new campus. The authority spent £21,000 on the project and a feasibility study but had to hand the rest back as it ran out of time.
Conservative opposition councillor Kevin Watt said it was very disappointing that it had taken so long to progress the scheme.
He said: “It has taken the council more than a year to resurface a path in West Glebe Park so I would be concerned about how quickly they can achieve more extensive works. We need to improve Corby and this money should be spent. Officers have not brought this to councillors’ attention recently and it is often put in front of you at the last minute.
“Leader Tom Beattie told us this was a new council and it would appear not.”