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Planning

A pair of the towns older shops in Newland Street with a long history stood empty for a considerable time. They had recently been a jewellers and the Button Boutique. Plans have been prepared for re-developing the site to include 32 flats and two shop units. Whilst it was encouraging to see the building have a new life through re-development, the new design unfortunately would have caused over development and a revised design for 28 flats was submitted for Planning Approval. The old building has been sold but we strongly object to the new proposal as we do to the adjacent Planning Application for flats overlooking Eden Street.

By contrast, the re-alignment of the Bowling Green Road, Headlands and Northampton Road junction which initially caused concerns is now becoming accepted. The actual quality of the construction work is of high quality and continues the improvement which the roundabouts at the bottom of Northampton Road have made.

It was sad to see that a Planning Application was made to demolish the Primitive Methodist Church in Bath Road now occupied by Timson Engineering. Since the church use ended some fifty years ago, the building has begun to decay. Many ideas for its re-use other than a car park have come forward but finding the considerable funds needed to buy, restore and re-model it have not been possible to find.
The same concerns apply to the Royal Hotel which is now being boarded up. We have suggested that it could become a regional base for organisations such as English Heritage and National Trust being placed neatly in this historic part of our county. Sadly, it requires a large financial input to restore what was once a very fine Hotel but now disused.
 

6 Station Road

Letter to Council

David Cook Esq.
Chief Executive
Kettering Borough Council
Council Offices
Bowling Green Road
Kettering NN 15 7QX

29th October 2014

Dear Mr Cook

6 STATION ROAD, KETTERING

At the Executive Meeting held on 15th October, Item 15 on the evening’s agenda was the possible future of 6 Station Road. The Committee Report outlined the recent history of the building following its vacation in 2005 by Kettering Centre for the Unemployed with the closure of its Learning Centre there. (The Centre had made a valuable contribution to the community in its time). Bee Bee Developments had a lease but the company ceased trading and are in liquidation and did no work on the site. The building having stood empty for some nine years was now the Committee’s opportunity to consider its future.

The Report suggested four options which were;
a) to sell the building as it is
b) to refurbish and let it
c) demolish the building and re-develop the site either as Offices or Mixed Use
d) simply continue to market the building ‘to let’.

Some offers had been made to buy it and the best offer was £250,000.00.

Barnes Noble Edwards had secured tenders to refurbish the building at a cost of at least £300,000.00 before letting it.

A selection of new-build schemes could be prepared by consultants. The possibility of re-developing the site was considered with an estimated cost including demolition and re-building would be around £1.3 million with an additional loan cost of around 8% per annum. Some costs might be offset by a section 106 Agreement Contribution.

Simply holding the present building and renting it out is an option, but with no interest shown so far to do this despite Barnes Noble Edwards efforts to let it, asks the question “is this a wise option?” This possibility is a gamble based upon speculative changes in the future market.

Option ‘b’ is of course a possibility, and if refurbished by the Council, might secure greater interest than has been shown so far.

Option ‘c’ is interesting and could fit neatly into the Local Plan Planning Policy for Station Road, this being Office/Commercial. However, buildings built further down Station Road for this purpose could not sustain and eventually were converted to Residential use.
No doubt Planning Committee could approve a Residential change on this site but with interest alone each year being around £104,000.00, on a building loan this would be an enormous commitment for the Council even without considering repaying the loan.

The Civic Society has been following events on the site and in the neighbouring area and have been particularly impressed by the ongoing refurbishment of Northampton House and also Ferndale nearby in the Headlands.

It was following the decision not to demolish Northampton House which gave the town a great deal of comfort. Whilst the building could not be ‘Listed’, its historic importance has protected it to the town’s satisfaction. Now its refurbishment, which appears to be to a very high standard, retains the building firmly on the towns map.

Not far away, the oldest property in the Headlands is also being returned to its original use as a private dwelling and again, the quality of the work appears to be excellent. This supports the object of the Headlands being in the Conservation Area.

It was against this background that it became known to the Civic Society that a family member associated with these two properties had made an offer of a quarter of a million pounds for 6 Station Road’s freehold. This appeared exciting in that the offer was made with the intention of refurbishing the building for it to become a specialist Dental Clinic. Were this to be in keeping with work done to the other buildings mentioned, the Conservation feel in the area would be further enhanced and at no cost to the Council.

The Civic Society request that the Executive Committee further review the options presented at their last meeting and in the town’s interest give serious consideration to the sale of
6 Station Road for conversion to a Dentistry.

Reply

 

News update: June 2014

NORTHAMPTON HOUSE

Kettering Civic Society has been monitoring Northampton House which unfortunately couldn’t be listed and had stood empty for some time. The Society is very pleased with the excellent progress Averil Phillips & family are making in its restoration for their business.

FERNDALE

Following the closure of Ferndale the County Council Care Home, the property had been unused for several years. Ferndale was the first house to be built in Headlands and an excellent job is being made of its restoration following the part demolition of the care home to become a private residence. We watch with much interest at its progress.

BRYN HAFOD in Hall Lane - formerly Our Lady’s Convent and School.

Kettering Borough Council served and enforcement on the property and the original developers are no longer involved. Now there are new developers and their progress is being monitored by Kettering Civic Society. There are many concerns from local residents which we take into account. The Society looked at the original Plans and KBC Peter Chaplin, the case officer will be giving us an update on the Listed House.

 

MPs BACK CHANGES TO GOVERNMENT’S PLANNING POLICY REFORMS

The House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee has published the report of its inquiry into the National Planning Policy Framework. It quotes Civic Voice eight times (as many as the National Trust and more than CPRE) and proposes a suite of reforms which would bring common sense changes to the planning policy review. Civic Voice gave written and oral evidence to the inquiry.
The Select Committee concludes that:
•There is no conclusive evidence that the planning system is a barrier to economic development
•Local Plans should be the centrepiece of the planning system
•Sustainable development should embrace the needs of people, the economy and the environment in equal measure
•Development should be guided by the principles of brownfield first and town centre first and in exceptional cases there should be absolute protection for some town centres from out-of-town development
•Local authorities should include an allowance for “windfall sites” when allocating land for housing development – including an allowance for these usually brownfield sites which cannot be planned for but which contribute significantly to housing land supply
The Government is expected to publish the final NPPF in February and has promised it by the end of March

Take action

It is more important than ever to maintain the pressure for sensible reforms to planning policy by writing to local MPs. The decision made in the next two months will shape the future patterns of planning and development for a generation.

Read the Select Committee report here
Read Civic Voice’s press release here

Spring 2010

The following are copies of letters sent to various council representatives by the Society requesting clarity on certain matters or to remind the council of values and matters that the Society feels are of great importance in the development of the town.

ROUNDABOUTS AT THE NORTHAMPTON ROAD RAILWAY BRIDGE

The Civic Society is aware that the design for roundabouts is being worked on. The bridge bottleneck presents a difficulty especially for pedestrians which could only be resolved at very great expense. We are of the opinion that two roundabouts on the town centre side of the bridge would not meet the “high quality junction” standard that Frishman Pell spoke about.

The extension of the town centre plan ending at the Conference Centre we fully support and believe that roundabouts at that bridge should be an integral part of that plan.

To that end the Civic Society, through Councillor Freer, has suggested a roundabout on either side of the bridge and enclosed is our drawing of the proposal.

We hope you will discuss the design with Paul Thomas and Adrian Lee with the intention of it becoming a roundabout/landscape entry into the town as much as a positive link to the Conference Centre and its surrounding estate.

Some of the land previously occupied by the second hand car sales show room may well be a valuable site for a Muslim Mosque over a ground floor car park.

THE FORMER AE SMITH GARAGE - EBENEZER PLACE

You will recall that when the former coachworks/garage caught fire, we recall that you were caringly instrumental in having the stonework from the front saved. It was probably the buildings only special feature.

Recently, several people have approached the Civic Society to investigate where that stone may now be and could it be re used. If you are able to establish where the stone now is (Green Plant did the site clearance) perhaps it could be incorporated into one of the town’s future buildings?

As you will agree Planning and Conservation are important.

DESIGNS IN THE NEW TOWN CENTRE, INCLUDING THE SUITE SIXTEEN SITES

The Civic Society considers that the Borough Council made a very appropriate appointment in choosing Chris Prout to prepare the “Vision” illustrations. Each picture successfully creates a possible interpretation of what might be built around the town.

One of the features of these illustrations is that they have a common identity which in itself makes for a visual unity to the character of the town. They are both sympathetic to the town character but also suitably visionary.
By contrast, the developer’s proposal for the Market Place Restaurants/Cafes lacks this important character understanding. Paul Thomas has wisely stepped in and commissioned Chris to produce illustrations of how they might look perhaps goes some way to redeeming the situation.

Our purpose in writing to you is two fold

a) it is now more than ever vital that the illustrated design guide is produced. It was promised when Councillor Bayes was Mayor. Whilst the Rockingham Design Guide was helpful in some respects it shows the sort of content Kettering Design Guide should have. Additionally, colour and texture are so important.

b) It is strongly suggested that the development brief for each of the Suite Sixteen Sites should include a Chris Prout vision as to how the development should look. It is important to the town that it has its own distinguishing qualities and identity. Kettering is a unique place which we have the opportunity to reinstate after much of the original character was demolished.

We believe with your input and influence it can achieve its former glory!

PROPOSED IMPROVEMENTS TO MARKET STREET AND SHEEP STREET

The Civic Society supports in principal the improvements to both these streets which form two of the containing sides of the Heritage Quarter. The regeneration is so important to the town’s future.
Particularly unifying the area of paving level is valuable. Extending the Market Place paving such that it links together all the surrounding buildings is good. The use of paving to give an enhanced sense of place to buildings such as the Library and Art Gallery helps to define the role they play but also makes them part of the greater whole. The Council’s suggestion of York stone and granite paviors as already used is supported both as a good choice and gives visual continuity.

There are great concerns over moving the Heritage Quarter bus stops to the Horse Market. The Horse Market really doesn’t serve any particular place or part of the town. It is however one of the Borough Councils most successful landscaping projects. The buses which call at the Horse Market (generally Shuttle buses) work well as does the taxi rank. Moving Taxis to Sheep Street would be inappropriate from the patron’s point of view. Whilst location 3 on the consultation plan works well in itself, it would destroy the space.

The Planning Investigation into “Buses” is very appropriate and needs to be viewed in a wider context. As Newland Street proves, bus stops can be filthy places and the Horse Market does not deserve that treatment. A greater use of the St Andrews/Eskdaill Terminus would be better and could be a larger multiple route stop possibly with a glazed structure.

It is important to retain traffic entering Sheep Street/Market Street for use of premises owners, shoppers, delivery vehicles and the disabled. It may be that Sheep Street could be the first stopping off point for the Shuttle service coming from the station?

However, there should be one very important ingredient “the route should be vehicle/pedestrian shared” with a speed limit of perhaps 15 mph. In this respect, Gold Street already works well.

To naturally enforce this combined use, the vehicle route should be clearly defined and possibly be as narrow as practical. This would partly discourage the use as through road and rate it as “access only” other than for buses.

There is one further very important vehicle issue and that is deliveries to ‘the Yards’. At present there are no plans for delivery. This is also the case in the High Street, Gold Street and Silver Street. Deliveries are vital for shops to succeed.

The provision for parking spaces is helpful though perhaps not for disabled people visiting the George Hotel!

Some time ago the Civic Society delivered to the Council details of London’s Exhibition Road. In this context there are four important points:-

  Lighting: Strategically placed good quality lighting playing both an illuminating purpose and a sculptural role should be part of the design.

  Landscaping: The Birch trees already planted encroach too far into the Market Place paving leaving a reduced space for some events. There is however, a need for some further planting both of trees and shrubs.

  Property owners contribution: This would set out to improve the appearance of many of the properties. It may also be appropriate to make specific proposals and seek funding. For example, the whole front of Mr Ray’s building could be replaced. Planning Approval would never be granted for all the signs and the Corn Exchange/Cinema building. This needs addressing. The appearance/smell from the Kebab shop does not contribute well. The buildings enclosing the paving play a very important part.

  Use of pavements for warm weather tables for drinking/selling coffee and teas: They are always welcome but too many would damage the setting and add responsibility for street cleaning.

The subject of buses and the Town Centre Road network is not included in Sheep Street/Market Street Consultation but the Civic Society would welcome making a contribution to this.