Northampton lift tower back on the up and up...

The Express Lifts Tower could be brought back to working order in as little as 18 months, according to a University of Northampton expert who will carry out research at the building when it is reopened.

It was reported in the Chronicle & Echo on Monday that plans to renovate the historic tower were to be submitted to planners for approval, while the go-ahead for new toilets and kitchens had already been granted.

Head of lift education at the University of Northampton, Jonathan Adams, said the new development would provide a huge boost for the university's lift engineering course, the only one of its kind in the world.

He said: "This is absolutely fantastic news for the tower, and our engineers.

"There was never any doubt the tower was in good enough condition to be a fully working structure, and hopefully the development will be completed in about 18 months.

"I don't know what the exact plans of the developers are, but I would love to see a museum or guided tours of the building, which would really attract people to the building."

The project will see the 127-metre tower in St James, which was originally opened by the Queen in 1982, reopened for research by the University of Northampton's lift engineers and testing by lift companies.

Residents living in Tower Square, at the foot of the structure, backed plans to put it to use.

Marcin Leszczynski, who has lived in the street for more than four years, said: "It's great news. At the moment it's useless, so it is good that someone has decided to do something with it.

"I don't think anyone around here would want to see it pulled down, because it's one of the best things about living here.

"If you've never been to Northampton before, you can use the lift tower to navigate. I love it, and it's only right that it's being used."

Karmen Louis added: "I agree they should be using it, so this is good news in a way. But I think they should spare some space in it and put in a youth club, because there isn't that much around here for kids to do and the lift tower would be perfect."