Anger at site’s demolition

editorial image

Senior councillors have expressed outrage after developers who consulted the public on the future of a Northampton building, demolished it without warning.

McCarthy & Stone were looking to convert Wardington Court, in Welford Road, into flats for the elderly and consulted residents in Kingsthorpe about retaining the building’s facade in 2013.

However, after a fire gutted the building in January, the developer demolished the building without communicating its intentions to councillors or the public.

Councillor John Yates, a former long-standing member of Northampton Borough Council’s planning committee, (Con, Spring Park) said: “I’m absolutely appalled that they went through the whole consultation the first time, then the next time we look the whole thing has been flattened.

“It doesn’t follow what most people would consider to be a right and proper planning process.”

Plans released in October by McCarthy & Stone showed the scheme would have seen the majority of the 19th century Wardington Court building retained and new retirement flats created around it.

The building was used by the Northamptonshire Association for the Blind until last year.

The fire that gutted it last month is believed to have been started in a disused fireplace by youths.

The building, which was built in about 1860, was to be converted into 41 one-bedroom and 17 two-bedroom apartments for elderly people.

Part of the building was due to be demolished regardless of the January fire.

A spokeswoman for McCarthy & Stone said a structural engineer had visited the site to assess the building and declared it needed it to be demolished immediately.

She said: “Due to the substantial fire damage to the building in Welford Road, we acted upon advice from a specialist structural engineer to demolish the building.

“In its current condition, the building posed a serious health and safety risk; therefore we had to act quickly to prevent the building from collapsing.

“The short time frame in which we had to carry out the demolition work meant we were unable to consult with locals about the work that was required on site.

“However it was done with the best interests of the public in mind.”