An office block that has stood empty for years in Northampton town centre is to become flats in a partnership between the borough council and Legal & General.
Belgrave House, in Greyfriars, is owned by the company behind the Grosvenor Centre, Legal and General, which has struggled to generate interest from tenants or buyers.
Now, in order to create affordable town centre housing for key workers - such as people working in the emergency services, health or education - Northampton Borough Council intends to convert the building into 120 flats.
Under the proposed deal, Legal and General would retain the lease for 30-35 years after which, for the price of £1, the council will become the landlord for the next 150 years.
Stuart MacGregor, the Guildhall's chief finance officer, said: "[The deal would offer] a significant increase in the supply of affordable rented housing for key workers.
"And it would meet employers' needs to attract and retain key workers who are working in the public sector as well as town centre retail and leisure, but are currently unable to buy or rent a home in the area in which they work."
If ratified by borough council cabinet members next Wednesday, the scheme will create 75 one-bed and 45 two-bed apartments. Tenants' parking spaces would be on top of the Grosvenor Centre car park.
Rents charged at Belgrave House will be equivalent to 80 per cent of those on the open market.
Mr MacGregor said: "In the interests of transparency, all of the Belgrave House lettings will be made to ‘key workers’ who are on Northampton’s Housing Register and are nominated by their employers.
"The views of local employers are sought on the nature and volume of demand that is likely to come from their workforce.
"This is to ensure that Belgrave House benefits the local economy and helps employers to attract and retain ‘key workers’, and the nominations and letting arrangements are appropriate and easily understood."
Northampton Partnership Homes will appoint a contractor to refit the building and will act as the managing agent.
Work would include adding two extra storeys, improving the alleyway to the west of the building and modernising the 1970s exterior. The contractor would also add an extra lift shaft and an entrance on the west side, as well as a rooftop garden.
Once the designs have been developed sufficiently, NPH will submit a planning application on the council’s behalf.
Building would take place between September this year and January 2021, with the first tenants picking up their keys in March 2021.