Bid to change former university building into learning centre for housing tenants approved

Plan aims to be turn the building into a learning centre to help tenants improve life and job skills

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 9:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 7:56 am
The Newton Building

An application has been approved to change the use of a building previously occupied by the University of Northampton into a learning and education centre for housing tenants.

Northampton Partnership Homes applied to Northampton Borough Council for a change of use for the Newton Building which forms part of the university’s Avenue Campus in St George’s Avenue.

The application aims to be turn the building into a learning centre to help tenants improve life and job skills such as IT training and home maintenance.

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The council’s planning committee approved the application on March 16 for the change the use from educational to offices and learning and non-residential institutions subject to conditions.

A report to the committee stated the planning committee recently approved in principle the appliciation for 170 new affordable homes on the remainder of the university’s Avenue Campus site. This includes allowing for the reconfiguration of the Newton Building car park.

The Newton 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.

A Grade II Listed Building, it was 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 application proposal is linked to the the relocation of the unversity’s facilities to the new Waterside Campus at Nunn Mills Road. The report stated: ‘Moreover, it is understood that the university, a not-for-profit organisation, is committed to reinvesting any capital receipts from the sale of the application site into the costs of the relocating the university and the provision of higher education.

‘The proposal would therefore also support the education role of the university and indirectly help the vitality and viability of the Central Area and the town centre.’

In seconding the application, councillor Jane Birch, said: “I think it is an excellent use of the building. It’s absolutely appropriate for the area.”