University of Northampton’s relocation dispute

editorial image

Development experts have questioned whether current plans to build a new university campus in the heart of Northampton will come to fruition.

In April, the Chron revealed The University of Northampton was considering plans to move to the derelict site of the town’s former power station in Nunn Mills Road, close to Avon’s headquarters in Bedford Road.

But during a public inquiry launched this week to decide the future of the Nunn Mills site, lawyers representing the West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (WNDC) questioned the viability of the current plan.

Nathalie Leven QC, representing the WNDC, claimed a deal which would see the university trade land it owns in Boughton Green Road for the Nunn Mills site could just be a “diversion tactic” used by house builders Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon, which co-own the Nunn Mills land.

She said: “The WNDC wholeheartedly supports the university’s proposals, but there’s a great deal of uncertainty at this stage about them and whether they will actually come to fruition.

“As far as we can see, the agreement with the housing developers makes the university’s plans no more likely and may just serve as a diversion.”

Lawyers for Taylor Wimpey announced at the opening of the inquiry that contracts had now been exchanged between the university and the development firms. Over the course of the next week, they are also expected to argue they are firmly committed to the deal with the university.

The WNDC however will argue the best way to secure the redevelopment of the Nunn Mills site is to allow the organisation to buy the lands using its compulsory purchase powers.

Ms Leven said: “There’s no doubt this site is in need of regeneration. Much of it has laid unused since the 1970s.

“This is a clear example of failure by the private sector to regenerate this site.”

The planning inquiry is due to run until November 22.

As well as the WNDC, Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon, officials from Avon will also give their opinions on the future of the site.