Former university Grade II listed building set to be used as learning centre for tenants by Northampton Partnership Homes
Support for plans from neighbouring residents
A former University of Northampton building is set to be turned into a learning base to help housing tenants improve their skills such as IT training and home maintenance.
Northampton Partnership Homes has applied to the borough council for a change of use for the Newton Building which formed part of the university’s Avenue Campus.
The application seeks planning permission for the change of use from educational to offices and learning and non-residential institutions.
The building was used by the university for offices/administration and lectures since 2008 but has been vacated since September 2018 when the university relocated to the new Waterside Campus.
The council’s planning committee will meet tomorrow/today (March 16) to discuss the application which is being recommended for approval subject to conditions.
A report to the committee reveals the property is a Grade II Listed Building constructed in 1915 as the Northampton Grammar School for Girls. It was later used by the Kingsley Park Middle School.
NPH intends to use the building as a base to expand its community learning and resident engagement programme delivered by in-house staff and partnership agencies. This will utilise a mixture of the Grand Hall for larger events and small rooms for group work and smaller training and engagement programmes.
The learning and engagement programme has a three-fold purpose:
(1) training targeted at supporting tenants to sustain their tenancies including budgeting skills, problem solving and conflict resolution skills, basic home maintenance
(2) Training and supporting tenants into work including information and communication technology training
(3) Engagement activities to promote health and wellbeing and address isolation
The office element of the proposal includes corporate functions such as finance and human resources, customer facing functions such as housing management and support, and resident engagement and training
A letter in support of the proposal was received from a local resident. It includes the following points: ‘Pleased the legacy of educational use would continue on the site; the site is an appropriate base for NPH to expand its community learning and resident engagement programme; it is important that the car park in not altered to ensure that there are no impacts on residents or the neighbouring primary school.’
A conclusion to the report states: ‘The proposal for a mix of office and educational uses and would have some similarities to the existing use of the application property and provide benefits in terms of employment, retaining an educational use on the site and securing a viable, long-term use of an important listed building.
‘In addition, the application site would support the relocation of the university to the Waterside Campus with the capital receipts from the sales of the Newton Building contributing to relocation costs and thus would indirectly assist with the regeneration of Northampton town centre and contribute to the aims and objectives of the Central Area Action Plan.’