This case study is part of Place Spotlight, which supports local areas in successful place making by taking each of the each of the eight components of great places and provides criteria for good, great and exemplary performance. Corby demonstrates what place making means in practice and provides an exemplar example of performance under the Equity component.
Find out more about Place Spotlight and how it can help you make great places.
Many towns and cities in the UK have ambitious plans for growth. Partners in Corby, led by the borough council and the North Northants Development Company (NNDC) are showing what transformational place-making looks like in practice.
By 2021, North Northamptonshire is expected to have a population of 370,000 people, larger than some existing English cities. Over 50,000 new homes and 47,000 jobs are planned for the sub-region.
The transformation of Corby demonstrates exemplary practice in making places through the delivery of quality housing and built environment. Based on a range of ambitious and high-quality developments, the town is maintaining regenerative momentum that will deliver some of the population growth expected by 2026.
Governance – bringing together a range of local, regional and national partners in a long-term and ambitious agenda for growth
Transport and connectivity – taking advantage of North Northamptonshire’s geographic location and proximity to London is a key part of the regeneration strategy, including the opening of the new Corby Railway Station
Economy – place-making in Corby is focused on supporting the growth of business in the town and making connections to nearby markets
Social and cultural – using redevelopment and regeneration to build communities and welcome movers to the area through the development of community projects (eg Corby East Midlands International Pool swimming facility and a new civic centre including a theatre and library)
Corby is a key hub in the Milton Keynes-South Midlands growth area. Its population is expected to double over the next 30 years, and in recent decades it has faced economic restructuring following the decline of the previously dominant local steel industry.
Development is led by the North Northants Development Company (NNDC), the local delivery vehicle that was formed in May 2006 by the merger of the North Northants Together Partnership and Catalyst Corby.
NNDC operates across Corby, East Northamptonshire, Kettering and Wellingborough, coordinating infrastructure needs and driving regeneration and the growth agenda. NNDC is led by a board which includes elected members of the borough, district and county councils as well as prominent individuals from the private sector.
Launched in early 2001, Catalyst Corby was the first Urban Regeneration Company to be created in line with the 2000 Urban White Paper. One of its first tasks was to develop the Corby Regeneration Framework, setting out a long-term growth agenda for the town, including the construction of at least 28,000 new homes to house its rapidly growing population.
The merger, in May 2006, of Catalyst Corby with the North Northants Together Partnership was designed to amalgamate the resources and efforts, establishing a single voice and coordinated approach to drive sustainable and long-term growth.
NNDC’s overall vision is “to help create an attractive, confident, successful, growing and prosperous North Northamptonshire, with a flourishing and dynamic economy, well paid jobs, quality public services and balanced and sustainable communities“.
NNDC’s programme of work has five key themes:
Town centre regeneration and renewal by development of cohesive market towns capable of sustaining inward investment and attracting commercial and residential interest
Housing is a key driver for growth in North Northamptonshire. NNDC is key to delivering a clear, sustained and carefully planned urban housing extension programme without disrupting the heart of rural Northamptonshire
Transport and strategic infrastructure addressing road, rail, bus and town centre interchange facilities as well as water, sewerage and flood protection measures
Economic growth including town centre and market town improvement, the provision of land and premises for employment uses and workforce development and business support
Green and sustainable infrastructure creating open space provision within the Green Infrastructure corridors
To deliver this vision, NNDC has developed a number of key strategic documents to set out investment priorities and provide a framework for productive interventions.
In October 2007, NNDC finalised the Programme of Development (PoD) which provided the overarching business case and implementation programme for the delivery of core infrastructure, including:
A new train station in Corby
Improved road facilities around the main arterial routes
Investment in green infrastructure
In December 2007, NNDC secured £28.8m in Growth Area Funding over three years to help deliver the infrastructure requirements set out in the Programme of Development. This was increased in December 2008 to £35.1m.
The Strategic Northamptonshire Economic Action Plan (SNEAP) was launched in February 2008. It sets out the economic vision for the area and forms the basis of partnership action plans which are being developed to drive growth. SNEAP helped partners to understand the scale of the intervention which would be required annually to hit growth targets. Priorities include supporting 60 new business starts, helping 160 existing businesses to grow and increasing the productivity of 550 businesses each year.
In May 2008, the Planning Inspectorate approved the Core Spatial Strategy for North Northants. The Core Spatial Strategy was seen as a crucial step forward for local partners. It was the culmination of many years of close working and provides “investors and developers with a clear strategic understanding of what development will be allowed and where up to 2021”.
Within this strategic framework, the activity led by NDDC has a number of different place-making elements:
Corby Regeneration Framework
The Parkland Gateway development is one element of Corby’s Regeneration Framework published in 2003. The aim of the town centre strategy was to regenerate through careful, planned strategic development, where each project built successfully on previous ones.
Parkland Gateway includes the area to the west of the town centre, and includes two newly built landmark facilities – the Corby Cube civic hub and the Corby East Midlands International Pool.
The Corby Cube is an iconic new building that incorporates a 445-seat theatre, a library, a café and restaurant as well as a borough council one-stop-shop and a new council chamber, where civil functions can also be carried out. The Cube is scheduled to open in 2010.
The International Pool opened in July 2009 and includes competition and training pools, a fitness suite, health centre and dance/exercise rooms. To underpin the design excellence that has driven this project, the venue is already included in both the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics Training Camp Guides.
LSC funding in 2009 realised the release of land currently occupied by the Tresham Institute. The closure of the higher education facility in 2012, in conjunction with the opening of its new site away from the town centre, will release land for future commercial and residential development.
For each element of the development, Corby Borough Council set high design standards and commissioned proposals through architectural design competitions and open competitive tendering.
Landscaping and restoration of historical woods behind the Corby Cube and pool is expected to be undertaken in 2010.
New retail core
Near to the Parkland Gateway development, a new shopping centre – Willow Place – is revitalising Corby’s retail centre as a regional shopping destination. Phase 1 of Willow Place was completed in October 2007 in partnership with Land Securities, at a cost of £40m. The new centre includes two anchor stores and a further 20 units in an open street environment, with plans for further expansion in future years.
New railway station
A key driver of the regeneration programme for Corby is the area’s convenient and strategic location between north and south. This has promoted the growth of distribution centres in the area and attracted households and businesses from London and other regions.
In line with this strategy, a new Corby Railway Station was opened in Feburary 2009. This secured the first passenger rail service in the town for 40 years, and the commencement of hourly services to London St Pancras from April 2009. The station cost £8.3m and was delivered by a public-private partnership that included the HCA, NNDC, the East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA), East Midlands Trains and Network Rail.
Business Park and Enterprise Centre
Next to the train station, partners have completed the first phase of a new Central Business Park, which will help attract new businesses into the town and provide improved office facilities for existing companies.
NNDC is leading partners on the building of a new 43,000 sq ft, £8.3m Corby Enterprise Centre, which will provide be home to innovative and expanding businesses and provide local residents with an opportunity to realise career ambitions.
The development will be located next to the new Corby Business Academy at Priors Hall, the major urban extension to the north-east of Corby. It is expected that the centre will be completed in late 2010, pending detailed planning consent.
Its development has been funded by EMDA in conjunction with Northamptonshire Enterprise Limited (NEL) and Corby Borough Council. It will also benefit from £1.1m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which is investing £2.2m in Corby, specifically in projects that promote economic growth by creating jobs and access to employment opportunities.
In addition to new town centre and retail developments, there are plans to build 16,800 new homes in Corby by 2021. The majority will be built in five new developments – Priors Hall, Little Stanion Village, Oakley Hay, Weldon Park and the Western Extension – and through the ongoing redevelopment of Oakley Vale. The fourth phase of the Oakley Vale redevelopment was brought forward by two years in response to high demand for new homes in Corby.
The redevelopment of Corby is a long-term project, but partners can already point to examples of impact.
Partners in Corby have been able to maintain the construction of new homes, despite the economic downturn and housing market instability. By positioning and marketing itself in relation to future housing demand, Corby has been able to demonstrate a clear business case for long-term investment in the area.
Initial consultations into the reconnection of Corby onto the mainline train routes south to London indicated that the expected revenue generated to the local economy was to be in the region of £200m from new business moving into the area and existing businesses growing.
The £2m first phase development of the Business Park was the first speculative development in Corby for more than a decade. This was seen by partners as sign of – and a further stimulus to – the growing sense of confidence in the future of Corby.
Plans are also in place for the future expansion of Corby as a retail hub when economic conditions have improved. In December 2008, Land Securities’ second phase of development, known as ‘Evolution Corby’, was given outline planning permission. These plans include 30,000 sq metres of shopping space, an anchor store, a sports facility and opportunities for town centre living.
High quality design standards have been built into plans for Corby. In November 2009, the Corby Cube building was rated ‘Excellent’ – the highest score in the British Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM). The mark reflected the:
Use of an unused brownfield site in the town centre
Smart use of rainwater, sunlight and natural ventilation to reduce energy usage
Measures to enhance site’s ecology through planting and green roofs
Plan together in order to deliver together. Corby Council joined forces with the neighbouring authorities of Wellingborough, Kettering, East Northamptonshire and Northamptonshire County Council in 2004 to form the North Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit. Key outcomes from the Joint Planning Unit include:
The preparation of an overall core strategy for North Northamptonshire in 2007
The coordination of a North Northants Local Development Framework
The development of a supporting joint statement on community.
Joint working with NNDC on the Economic Strategy and Programme of Development provided a strong, shared basis for development and growth.
Offer ‘great places’ to potential residents and investors. The physical transformation in Corby is underpinned by a strong understanding of the need to offer attractive and sustainable places to households and businesses. Each development plan includes investment in the cultural and environmental infrastructure of the area, as reflected in the BREEAM accreditation for the Corby Cube.
Understand economic factors at every level. The Strategic Northamptonshire Economic Action Plan also provides all partners with a strong understanding of the economic pressures, opportunities and trajectories that affect plans for growth. Understanding this context, and how national and regional economic forces impact on different places and economic sectors in North Northamptonshire means that partners can develop robust economic plans.
Build a high-quality infrastructure base. The Programme of Development sets out a comprehensive analysis on infrastructure requirements and a programme of investment to deliver infrastructure across the sub-region. The Joint Planning Unit also developed a Sustainable Design Supplementary Planning Document. This incorporates CABE’s Building for Life standard and provides public and private sector partners with a clear description of the quality required.
Change the image. Partners in Corby commissioned branding and PR specialists to promote opportunities in the town to potential residents and investors, including a campaign to attract first-time buyers from London. The ‘More in Corby’ campaign has won several prestigious marketing awards, improving awareness and perceptions of the town and generating significant numbers of new home buyers from the south east. The campaign stressed both Corby’s competitive cost of living and higher quality of life compared to London, and the town’s proximity to the capital.
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