Kettering is located in one of the richest Countries in the World, within an hour’s travelling of over 5 cities and 3 other County towns. What is going on?
- The ‘vision’ of town-planners and politicians, they are making an effort but have largely failed us to date. Why?
- The ‘masterplan’ for the town centre is based on outdated urban thinking, much of which contributed to the death of American Cities such as Detroit. Why?
- The Plan mentions ‘space syntax’, a proven technique for analysis and recommending improvements, but only has a cheap copy carried out. Why?
- The best new work of architecture in the town was designed mostly back in the C20. Why?
- CABE (the Centre for the Built Environment) slated the Kettering East ‘urban extension’ for the poor quality, but the report appears to have been ‘suppressed’ and ignored. Why?
- Development is happening on the the outskirts not in the increasingly vacant centre. Why?
- The County is known for the quality of footwear, foodstuffs and other goods but most shops sell only foreign imports. Why?
- The town used to have one of the finest secondary schools in the County (The Grammar School) but allowed it to be run down and close. Why?
There are a number of things that as inhabitants we can do to overturn the malaise:
- Carry out the ‘Space Syntax’ analysis that the masterplan doesn’t do. This will reveal the simple improvements to make to improve so many aspects of the way the spaces between buildings works in the town. It is not rocket science!
- Employ local fully qualified architects and urban designers not partially qualified or unqualified designers from somewhere else with a glossy brochure. It is not rocket science!
- Buy local to boost local industries and services. It is not rocket science!
- Require ALL buildings in the Borough to be designed by fully qualified professionals. It is not rocket science!
- Encourage owners to bring the upper floors of town centre buildings and the vacant buildings back into use as offices, workshops, leisure facilities and homes. It is not rocket science!
- Encourage residents and visitors to use the town centre by making car parking free or inexpensive like ALL the surrounding towns. It is not rocket science!
- Campaign for, or create, a true campus of tertiary education level (degrees and apprenticeships) to gain the benefits of a ‘University Town’, but based on the vocational real World. We cannot compete with Oxford and Cambridge neither of which is far away. It is not rocket science!
As an architect I, and the few others in the town, have trained for many years to solve these problems but been consistently ignored for decades. Architects are trained to design Architecture, to inspire our work, life and play, not mere functional buildings at cheapest cost. If the town wants to have a value for money and inspirational built environment that will outlast our politicians, it can.