Plans to allow the University of Northampton to create a leather work “centre of excellence” in the town’s cultural quarter are set to be rubber stamped next week.
The university has now confirmed its plan to occupy a large part of the borough council’s proposed £13 million Vulcan Works development in Guildhall Road and Angel Street.
The new facility would house an Institute for Creative Leather Technologies, a Leather Conservation Centre and a leathercraft exhibition space.
The university will also run the neighbouring cultural hub for creative industries, first announced in 2014.
Cabinet member for regeneration, Councillor Tim Hadland, said: “This is an ambitious plan that will place Northampton at the forefront of leatherworking technology.
“We are already renowned for the quality of our shoe production, with the world’s largest cluster of prestige footwear firms within a ten-mile radius.
“It makes sense for us to capitalise on that position, cementing Northampton’s place as a global powerhouse for leathercraft.”
The entire Vulcan Works project will cost around £13 million, £5 million of which will be used to create the university’s new leathercraft centre.
Initially, the university is set to contribute £2 million to the project, and will pay the remaining costs through a 30-year lease arrangement with the council.
It will also manage the cultural hub when it opens, though these will remain in the council’s ownership.
University of Northampton chief operating officer, Terry Neville, said: “It will be a source of pride to us and to the borough council to be able to bring these historic buildings that have stood since 1875 back to use.”
Most of the money for the cultural hub is coming through a Local Growth Fund grant, administered by South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP).
Stephen Catchpole, chief executive of SEMLEP, said: “We are delighted our Local Growth Deal funding is on track to create an exciting hub for creative industries.”
The Vulcan Works cultural hub will provide workspaces for a number of grassroots creative businesses in Northampton.
A revised concept for the Vulcan works site is expected to be submitted this summer, with work starting on-site by the end of the year. The leatherworks and cultural hub would be open by summer 2018.
The university’s plans to run the leatherworks and cultural hub will be considered by Northampton Borough Council’s cabinet on Wednesday, May 11.