We are happy to report, we now have contractors on site undertaking a series of enabling works which you may have seen when passing over the last few weeks.
As the focus shifts from the planning and design stages to construction works, we thought it would be a great opportunity to let you know a little more about what the new extension and improvement works are bringing to the buildings and the local community!
New spaces & general building enhancements:
We have been working with Kettering based GSS Architecture which was originally founded by John Alfred Gotch who designed the original Art Gallery in 1913. We are pleased to continue this relationship with GSS who also extended the library in the 1980s.
New gallery store
A brand-new Art store is being delivered as part of the works. This will enable increased storage capacity, and the collection will be more accessible for the Gallery team, something the Gallery team are very happy about! We are aiming to create some storage for the Museum as well. This space will be fully environmentally controlled to look after our important collection.
Refurbished events space ground floor
This space was previously a library store and office but will be transformed into a flexible events space, available for commercial hires, workshops, Gallery film nights, Library rhyme times and much more.
New events space 1st floor
A brand new 1st floor events space with views across Manor House Gardens connecting the site to the Museum. With 180 degree views via the glass façade towards the lovely green surrounds this will be a great events space. There is a kitchenette hidden behind a shutter and the space will be used for messy workshops, receptions, workshops and available for commercial hire.
New café first floor
A brand-new café with views over to the east and south of the gardens, with direct access to a fantastic outdoor terrace.
Both the east and west galleries are being refurbished with new flooring, wall linings and lighting to secure the future of these important cultural spaces and allow them to expand their programme for many years to come.
New BIPC centre
A brand new BIP centre to support entrepreneurs and innovators from that first spark of inspiration to successfully launching and growing a business. The centre will provide a comprehensive collection of databases and publications plus a programme of practical workshops, one-to-one advice sessions, legal advice and talks. Bookable meeting pods will be available within the centre.
Enhanced access and Changing facilities
A new accessible ramp at the new east entrance will ensure the building is accessible to all. We will also have a fully accessible changing place on the ground floor. A changing place toilet provides sanitary accommodation for people with multiple and complex disabilities and ensures a comfortable visit for all to the building.
Via a new accessible ramp the new East entrance will be open to all.
Please note the Blitz Tea Room, Cornmarket Exchange, Swimming Pool, Council services and Covid test centre are all operating as usual whilst works take place on site. Watch this space for further updates as site activities progress
We have recently had a few queries relating to the trees and wanted to confirm that there are no further trees planned to be felled as part of construction works.
As part of the original planning permission submission we had to include information relating to tree removal for the requirements of site access and public accessibility, at the stage of doing this, and due to the pace of the project, we did not have confirmed site access routes determined, we therefore had to ensure flexibility within the submission. Subsequently and taking into consideration the feedback and engagement from residents we were able to work with the professional team to reduce and mitigate the impact on the natural fabric of the Manor Gardens, which is a well-loved and important urban green space.
By demolishing a single storage facility which sat within the adjacent car park, we have been able to protect and retain more trees. As a reminder, this resulted in;
- the removal of 2 trees within the extension boundaries
the transplant of 4 trees to elsewhere within the gardens which would have otherwise been damaged by the extension.
Three of the four trees were transplanted successfully and now have a 3-year maintenance plan to support their survival, the fourth unfortunately was not able to be transplanted and failed during lifting due to the slope levels of the land – this tree has been replaced with the same species and now resides within the wider gardens. The grounds team are in regular attendance and monitoring the trees appropriately, all three remaining trees are currently doing well.
The Council wishes to carry out a comprehensive landscaping strategy across the whole Manor House Gardens alongside the future refurbishment of the Museum. As plans for a phase two remain an ambition and are still under development, a more limited scope of landscaping works will be implemented as part of the GLAM project. This will avoid any abortive works should a phase two progress at a later date.
This phase of works will include an accessible ramp and landscaped entrance from the London Road lower car park to the new building and some additional soft landscaping/planting.
This statement is intended to provide a summary of the actions undertaken to date, and those proposed to ensure that the Kettering GLaM project proceeds without risk of harm or disturbance to any bats that may utilise the Site for foraging or commuting, or to roost, and to ensure compliance with all relevant UK and European legislation.
Background and Context
Delta-Simons Environmental Consultants Ltd completed a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) and Bat Roost Potential (BRP) survey in September 2020 and assessed all of the buildings on-Site to provide suitable opportunities for roosting bats, with the Library supporting a brown long-eared (BLE) Plecotus auritus bat roost. A subsequent detailed inspection of the Gallery Store roof void and roof in November 2020 identified no suitable access points or roost features for bats such that this structure was reassessed as having negligible BRP.
In accordance with current best practice (Collins, J. (ed.) (2016) Bat surveys for Professional Ecologists: Good Practice Guidelines, 3rd Edition, The Bat Conservation Trust) dusk emergence and dawn re-entry surveys were undertaken at the Site, with one, two or three survey visits completed depending on the level of roosting potential that had been assigned to each building.
The nocturnal surveys were undertaken at the appropriate time of year in suitable weather conditions. They recorded limited bat activity (foraging and commuting) within the immediate area around the buildings, with no bats recorded to roost within any building at the Site. It was concluded from the internal inspections and nocturnal surveys that the Library is used by an individual or small number of BLE bats as an occasional transitional roost in autumn (one recorded to be present in September 2020). None of the other buildings were found to support a roost.
Where works are not anticipated to impact upon roosting bats, these can proceed without the need for a licence and in accordance with Planning Condition 7. This includes all works with the exception of anything that will impact upon the library roof structure. However, bats are mobile animals which often change roost sites on a regular basis and at different times of year. As such in order to further mitigate any risk of bats occurring, precautionary measures are to be followed. This includes sensitive timing of works, a tool-box talk provided to contractors, a pre-commencement dawn nocturnal survey to identify any additional bat activity, and a watching brief during sensitive works. In the event that a bat(s) is discovered, all works will stop immediately, and the licenced bat worker will determine the most appropriate way forward. It may be necessary to stop works until a licence has been sought from Natural England
Natural England Licence
For the works to the library roof to be undertaken lawfully, the Site is currently being registered under a Low Impact Licence by a registered consultant. Under the conditions of this licence, works will follow an appropriate method statement to ensure bats are protected from any harm during the works.
Maintenance of Roosting Potential for Bats
To ensure the Site continues to provide roosting opportunities for bats, the Library roof will be replaced with at least 15 bat access tiles to provide continued access to the underlying voids. In the event that underfelting is required this will be cut to correspond with the access tiles and will be non-woven short fibred bitumen felt to ensure it is safe for bats. Similarly, the Museum and Blitz Caf will incorporate at least six bat access tiles into the roof structure.
Ecological Clerk of Works
In order to provide on-going ecological advice and monitor the works being undertaken particularly in relation to bats,a Delta-Simons Natural England bat licensed ecologist has been appointed as Ecological Clerk of Works for the project and will undertake regular Site visits, as well as maintaining communication