Kettering Civic Society
Newsletter 10 (2008)

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Forthcoming Social Events

The AGM of the Society Wednesday 18th March 2009 The Corn Market Hall

Sunday 14th June Visit to Eltham Palace & Gardens

Saturday 15 August 2009 Visit to Prom 40: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Chairman's Report

Since I became Chairman I have set out to follow the aims of the Society by our mandate in retaining a high quality of architecture and civic pride in our town. This essentially has focused on the regeneration of the town following the loss of many buildings when the Society was originally set up. In this respect, Kettering Council have had similar aims and to achieve these they appointed Savills as consultants to prepare a Town Plan divided into quarters which encompassed the area between the Co-Op Superstore in Northfield Avenue and the Conference Centre, Kettering Leisure Village. From that broad plan, a detailed study of the very centre of the town followed. Much of the Society’s focus during this year has been toward this.

There have of course been specific Planning Applications which attracted our interest as well.

In January 2008 a Planning Application was made to redevelop ‘Ferndale’ the first house to be built in the Headlands designed by Gotch for the Butlin family but which became a home for the elderly run by the County Council. The Civic Society objected to the proposed flatted redevelopment and the Kettering Borough Council refused Planning Approval. A Planning Appeal has now been made.

A Planning Application was made in February to redevelop Elm Bank the home originally of the Timpson family and latterly a care home for disabled people. The proposal respected the original house which would be converted to a nursing home.

In the same month, the first Town Centre Design workshop led by Savills took place at Toller Church Rooms. The actual number of town people available to join in an afternoon workshop was small though opinions expressed helped develop the concept of viewing the town as a series of “quarters”.

(We noted that the Council Chief Executive, David Cooke received the MBE for his work with the Council).

Of special importance to the Civic Society was the approval by the Council of a Design Guide for the Development work. We originally campaigned for it a year earlier when the need to preserve and strengthen the individual character of the town was emphasised and a request made that the Design Guide should include illustrations of the features which the town should include. We still wait to see this guide although it is nearly complete.

Kettering Council made several approaches to the Government for funds to have the town centre work carried out. In April £800,000 was secured to renovate Chesham House this work has now been completed and awaits occupants in the form of starter businesses.

The Society wrote a statement regarding the Planning Appeal for “Ferndale”.

There were several significant issues in May. Firstly the Muslim Community made a Planning Application for a change of use at 121 Headlands for a private house to a Community Centre. This was approved and a second application followed to allow prayer meetings to take place there. We have objected not to the Society but the change of use and I met with Val Hitchman the Council’s Head of Community Services with a view to the Council helping them to find a more suitable site as they had done with the Mormons. The outcome was not encouraging.

Importantly for us was the commencement of the Market Place Consultations. These have involved the new paving and the Time Line. The Civic Society has been approached by the Council as Consultees. We have objected to the shelter proposed for the Market Place.

Sadly we learned that Barton Hall was to be sold and at the same time Redrow were progressing a residential planning application for Wicksteeds land near to the Park. Local objections have made this a difficult affair.
Our hackles were raised in June as it was discovered that as a part of Savills plan, a multi-storey car park was planned for the London Road Car Park and town houses in the Council Car Park overlooking the Manor Gardens. There are no definite plans as yet.

A subject which is giving great concern is the building of Affordable properties, mostly flats in the town centre. The social implications are very worrying not least as it will deter larger shops such as Debenhams opening in the town. 52 flats in Meeting lane is one such example.

The Design Guide has featured gradually as the year has progressed and was again referred to at the August Meeting of the Council Executive. Street Scape Seminars led by Savills took place in October. We have suggested the ideas in the proposals for London’s Exhibition Road proposed by Architect Jeremy Dixon would be good for Sheep Street and the Market Place.

New Government led requirements for Planning Applications were introduced in November. These may seem helpful to the town in that they now require a whole range of background reports including history, conservation and community contact.

Dr Peter Hill contacted us in November regarding work he is undertaking for the Council on listing buildings. Our Committee reviewed his suggestions which were accepted. It was many years ago that the last town review took place. The town’s Eastern Quarter Expansion was discussed by the Planning Executive to review progress. By now the financial difficulties we are now facing not only as a nation but world wide are taking more and more effect and these proposals are suffering as a consequence. The main problem has been the main through road linking the Northern bye Pass to the A14 for which there is very little Government funding.

The same diluting of proposals is affecting the Town Centre. Lower Street developments are seriously reduced.

Following Civic Issues of course is our main aim but life without social events would be uninteresting and I have made sure these happen through the year.

Much of the organising has been done by Monica who we thank for all her hard work in this direction. We do however thank her more for her all the secretarial duties she does endlessly. Thank you Monica.

Before asking her to read the Secretary’s report I must thank the Committee for regular attendance at monthly meetings and not least our members for all their support.

Thank you all.

Paul Ansell

Secretary's Report

This report begins with the sad news that on 10th March the Chairman, Vice Chairman, Stephanie Mercer and the Secretary together with other Society members attended the funeral of Eva Heath the wife of former Chairman Arthur Heath at St Edwards Church.

Dorothy Jones and Paul Gotch both long standing members of the Society, and Mr Leatham died in 2008.

For personal reasons the membership secretary was unable to fulfil her role which did not come to light until the end of 2008. Much time and effort was spent rectifying matters so that membership would continue to thrive and members be informed of the Society activities. We would like to apologise to members who did not receive necessary correspondence.

The Society’s social calendar began with the Annual Dinner which was held on the 14th March. In attendance were the Mayor, Councillor Christopher Lamb, Mrs Lamb, members and guests and as usual it had been a success. The venue was superb and Classic Catering provided yet again an excellent and abundant menu.

The speaker, Nick Hill gave an illustrated talk about the restoration of Apethorpe Hall which inspired members and friends to visit on Saturday 21st June. Several members enjoyed a meal in the King’s Head in Apethorpe beforehand.
Following the Dinner the Mayor sent a card of thanks and an invitation to the Committee to visit the Mayors Parlour on 19th April and a pleasant afternoon ensued when all received a print of the Kettering Coat of Arms signed by the Mayor.

Throughout the year several coffee mornings were held at Toller Church providing an opportunity for the Society to show a presence in the town as well as allowing the Society to raise funds towards administration costs. Eleanor Patrick remained a loyal volunteer. We were delighted to have our photograph on the front page in the Herald & Post!

A successful trip to St Pancras International Station took place on 3rd August. Dorothy Knibbs was congratulated on organising the trip and she received many compliments from members and friends for an enjoyable day spent in London, even though it had rained.

We did not allow another rainy day in London on Saturday 9th August to spoil the afternoon before the Proms concert either.

I gave a talk about the Society to the Women’s Institute at Cranford and a donation of £25 was presented to the Civic Society and most gratefully received.

The quiz night at the Star Inn in Geddington on 16th September raised £80.

The Committee received an invitation from Dr Peter Hill to attend the Winter Festivities at Kirby Hall Saturday 13th December.

Members of the committee attended the Mayors Charity Ball on 13th November.

Throughout the year the Society received enquiries via post and email and responded appropriately. The web site continued to be a useful tool in keeping local and distant people informed of activities. Thanks as always are conveyed to Roger Paine for his maintenance of the site.

Several brochures were produced throughout the year informing of the Society’s programme of events. The Evening Telegraph and Herald & Post as well as 4 Locals were also informed of the Society’s activities.

The Society is in the process of applying for Charitable Status with the assistance of John Peck.

The Light House Theatre was the 2008 recipient of The Rose Bowl which was awarded on Thursday 12th June. Councillor Jenny Henson, Mayor of Kettering gave an introduction and a brief account of the history of the building and the Duke of Buccleuch performed the official opening. A concert followed with Northamptonshire string Sinfonia, a piece by Kettering Gang Show and songs by Sue Bond and Phinesta Taylor made the evening complete. After the performance the Chairman addressed the audience and the Duke presented the Rose Bowl to Eric Atkinson of Kettering Conference Centre. A framed photograph of the Rose Bowl presentation was given to Dave Atkinson which is displayed at the Conference Centre.

The Society looks forward to another interesting year of events when we celebrate the Society’s 40th Anniversary in 2009.

Monica Özdemir

At the AGM the following were voted in:
President: Lady Freeman (Dipl. Cons (AA))    Chairman: Paul Ansell, Dip Arch RIBA    Vice Chairman: Robert Mercer    Secretary: Monica Özdemir
Committee members: Rachel Aldridge, Mr John Coleman, Mrs Susie Corke, Mrs Mary Lock-Page, Miss Eleanor Patrick and Mrs Andrea Pettingale.