Go-ahead to demolish old Sofa King store in Northampton to build 40 flats

Plans approved despite concerns over flooding and parking

Friday, 19th March 2021, 3:34 pm
Updated Friday, 19th March 2021, 3:36 pm
The former Sofa King store

A plan to demolish a former cinema building in Northampton and build 40 flats has been given the go-ahead despite some councillors' concerns about flooding and parking.

Roses Drapery Stores Ltd applied to Northampton Borough Council for permission to demolish the old Tivoli Cinema in Towcester Road which has stood empty for several years after previously being used as a sofa company store.

The plan includes the building of a retail unit at ground floor level as well as 39 car parking spaces and cycle storage facilities.

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A previous application for full planning permission was granted in January 2018. In October 2020 an application to alter the design of the approved building, to amend the flood risk assessment and reduce the level of parking by one space was approved in principle. The new application has been submitted due to the expiry of the original 2017 consent.

The application was approved subject to a Section 106 Legal Agreement being secured.

A report to the committee stated the application site is relatively level in nature and is also located within an identified flood zone. The Environment Agency had no objection to the plan as long as it is undertaken in accordance with the submitted Flood Risk Assessment. The Local Lead Flood Authority had no objection subject to conditions on surface water drainage.

Addressing the committee, ward councillor Graham Walker, said: "Going back to the grounds of flooding and parking. Flooding, we all know what Far Cotton is about and I wish people would understand. And over the years I've spoken to many people at Northampton Borough Council and the county council about flooding in our area.

"Now you can not put a full pint of water into a half a pint of water and that's what you're trying to do down in Far Cotton. You've built all around us, you've allowed allowed these places to be build on allotments, and everywhere around. That's all coming down the hill in six foot sewer pipes into a Victorian sewer pipe in Far Cotton.

"So I ask for this development to go ahead. Yes we need housing. We know we understand we need housing.

"But you have to look at the infrastructure. You guys need to look into this. The Victorian sewers in Far Cotton will not take the amount of water that's now coming."

Cllr Walker said he was also concerned there would be even less parking spaces available in an already congested area.

Councillor Emma Roberts, borough councillor for Delapre, Far Cotton & Briar Hill. She said: "The planning application in 2018 didn't consider the heritage position of the building or what was behind that yellow cladding or what should be done about it. There's a condition in respect of an archeological assessment, but that hasn't to be done until after the planning permission has been given.

"What if things are found that could be preserved and could be protected. Why aren't we looking to preserve the nature of that building as part of the planning application and permission itself?

"Why can't the houses that are so desperately needed have the front of that building retained so the area has that beauty?"

Cllr Roberts went on to say she also had concerns about the lack of parking space already in the area and possible flooding due to Victorian sewers and climate change in the future.

Nigel Ozier, planning consultant and agent for the applicant, said: "If I deal with flooding first, I think we have taken that very seriously and clearly with this application and what's different is that it's got a fresh flood assessment. It's not the old one. It's not the old facts. It's a new one.

"And that has been presented both to the Environment Agency and to the LFA (Lead Flood Authority) and both are happy with it."

Mr Ozier went on to say that in terms of parking, it was likely that not every space would be needed. He said: "In terms of parking, yes we have one less space than we did in 2018 but the same you considered in October 2020. I don't believe anyway that in a location like this that everybody would have a car. "But having said that, 39 spaces is still very good and there is no objection from the highway authority and it's likely that not every one would be needed.

He pointed out that there will be 20 electric vehicle charging points for 40 houses which was an improvement on the scheme previously considered.

He added: "The building isn't listed as far as I'm aware. However we have accepted there may be the need for a brief if permission is granted to look at the archeology, to look at the design and that will be considered and looked at carefully before the development is actually started."