Kettering Market Place forms part of a wide strategy for the town centre prepared by Savills, in the form of a draft Area Action Plan. It quickly became apparent that the historic core of the town was suffering economically, despite including some of the town’s most attractive buildings and spaces.
The lack of pedestrian footfall in the area due to the development of a new indoor shopping centre and bus station at the other end of town had also ultimately resulted in the space losing its weekly market. The sloping nature of the site also prevented its use for certain events, as well as restricting pedestrian access for the less mobile. At night, the centre of the space was dark, less than 1 lux, and well below Northants CC standard.
The only light came from SON lamps on 8m columns on the perimeter. As a consequence the space was little used, despite being fronted by a number of hotels, restaurants and takeaways.
Kettering Borough Council recognised that the enhancements to the Market Place would act as an important catalyst in the economic regeneration of the wider town centre. Savills was employed to lead a multi-disciplinary design team, including Designs for Lighting Ltd, to create a vibrant and attractive multi-functional place that would form the heart of a re-branded Restaurant Quarter.
A key aim was to create a space with an accessible and attractive pedestrian environment that would be safe, comfortable and interesting to linger in, at all times of day and night. In particular it would accommodate events such as performances as well as outdoor café seating. The design also sought to comply with the Disability discrimination Act. As the space is located in a Conservation Area, the design aim was to create a contemporary space that would also reinforce the historic identity of the town, both in its use of materials and styles, as well as through public art.
The structure of the space was led by two main solutions, the down-grading of the highway (including re-routing of buses) to create a shared-surface, combined with the creation of a levelled central area enclosed by a low granite amphitheatre and terraced area. The central space incorporates an interactive water feature with variable water jets. A bespoke canopy provides informal shelter as well as a stage during performances. Public art in the form of a black granite ‘Time Line’ etched with events and people in Kettering’s history reinforces local identity and marks the way between the Church of St Peter and St Paul and the High Street. A series of lime trees semi-enclose the western edge of the space and continue an existing avenue.
To enhance the night-time quality and enjoyment of the space an imaginative approach to lighting was taken. The new granite steps and benches include a series of LEDs which create an attractive array of decorative lights which also have the benefit of highlighting the step treads. Whilst numbers of lamp columns have been minimised, lux levels have been increased, creating a safe, more usable environment. All light sources are highly efficient and with low energy consumption.
Street Lighting: The first requirement was to upgrade the lighting to Northants CC standards, S4 (Eave 5 lx, EMIN 1 lx). A design limitation was that the central area had to remain free of columns. This was overcome by using a lantern with a variable optic which directed the light towards the middle of the square. Sky glow was minimised because the lantern emitted no light above the horizontal. A white light source was chosen, CosmoPolis, because of its good colour rendering and in order to contrast with the sodium highway lighting.
Canopy: The stainless steel ‘Kettering Market Place’ lettering is backlit using white 1w LEDs behind frosted glass. It is clearly visible from the town centre and surrounding roads thus acting as a focal point and waymarker. Lighting under the spine is by RGB LEDs. These are normally ‘white’, but can be sequenced for colour when required for events.
Timeline: This is lit by recessed LED strips which consume just 2w each. White LEDs with the same colour appearance, CCT, as the canopy and tree uplights were chosen. Again, the strips as waymarkers were in preference to using signposts.
Amphitheatre steps: Low power blue LEDs (< 0.5w) were chosen to provide a decorative effect whilst minimising glare. Blue is an attractive colour at low lighting (mesopic vision) levels and provides a pleasant contrast with the granite steps. Similar white LEDs were used to decorate the granite benches.
Trees: The trees are uplit by two 12 x 1w cool white LED units. These are higher power than normal so as to contrast with the adjacent highway lighting. The LEDs are angled towards the leaf canopy to reduce sky glow.
Fountains: Submersible RGB LEDs are used to light the water jets, with programmable colour changing as required, enhancing the value of the water feature throughout the day.
Electrical loadings: Columns: 500w, Inside canopy: 60w, Under canopy: 120w, Fountains: 20w, Time line strips: 36w, LED pavers: 60w, Tree uplights: 200w
Total when all lights switched on >1kw
Kettering Borough Council, North Northants Development Company
Savills – Lead Consultant, Landscape Architecture
Alan Baxter & Associates – Civil and Structural Engineering, Drainage, Transport Planning
Form Associates – Landscape Architecture, Public Art, Architecture
Designs for Lighting Ltd – Lighting
White Young Green – Mechanical & Electrical Engineering
The Fountain Company – Water Feature Design
Tweeds – Cost Consultancy & Contract Management
Cost and Maintenance Arrangements
The project was funded through North Northants Development Company, with capital works costing £1.2m. The site is managed by Northamptonshire County Council and Kettering Borough Council. Following completion of the works, Kettering dedicated a member of staff to take responsibility for programming events for the space over the coming year. The lighting elements have been designed to minimise maintenance costs and input. All LED units have a rated life in excess of 50,000 hours. The only items needing replacing are the CosmoPolis lamps. These are expected to be changed every four years (all night burning).
Quotes courtesy of Ruth Bishop, Associate Director, Savills.
Objective: ‘To provide Kettering Borough Council with a masterplan for the town centre, to be adopted as an Area Action Plan. This was accompanied by public realm strategy and lighting strategy.’
Key targets: ‘The importance of good design team co-ordination and communication, especially cross-discipline working to achieve innovative design solutions such as the insertion of LED lighting in the amphitheatre steps and seating. The importance of a sustainable approach to both design and construction. This is increasingly recognised by clients and the wider public and should be an integral part of the design process.’
Innovation: ‘The main lesson is that there is no conflict between exterior lighting and low-energy/conservation issues. As long as everyone is involved in the decision and the design is well planned, a good result will be achieved.’
Outcome: ‘The provision of an award-winning design, on budget that is highly valued by the local community. This is being reflected by having a knock-on effect on regeneration in the wider area, with new shops and apartments being built on the southern frontage of the Market Place, the sale and refurbishment of two hotels and landmark Corn Exchange building, also all fronting the space.’
Performance: Designs for Lighting scored ‘Very Good’ on all KPIs comprising of:- Organisation, Quality of Consultant Services, Quality of Post-Contract Service, Financial Control, Co-operation with Client, Co-operation with others.