Council reveals 'progress' is being made to reopen busy Northampton street following massive fire at former nightclub

It has been two months since a massive fire ripped through the former Balloon Bar
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Here’s the latest update two months after a massive fire ripped through a former Northampton nightclub.

Fire crews were called to Bridge Street at around 11pm on Tuesday, August 22 following 999 calls of a four-story building on fire.

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That building was home to the former Balloon Bar night club and Fat Cats spot, which also was victim of a fire in 2012.

Here's what Bridge Street currently looks like after the fire on August 22Here's what Bridge Street currently looks like after the fire on August 22
Here's what Bridge Street currently looks like after the fire on August 22

On September 6, West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) said the building will be demolished but did not say when.

Because of the planned demolition, Bridge Street has been partially closed to traffic ever since and for the foreseeable future, according to WNC, leaving the notorious street looking very sorry for itself.

Now two months on from the fire, this newspaper asked WNC for an update.

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We asked the council: What's the latest on getting the road free of scaffolding and back open? What's the latest regarding making the building safe? Is demolition on the cards still? What's the landlord said to WNC?

Cabinet member Cllr David Smith responded, saying: “West Northamptonshire Council continue to progress work to deal with the site. We are not able to provide further timescales at this stage, but will continue to keep both the public and local businesses informed as necessary works progress.”

A Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “As the building is potentially unsafe it has not yet been possible to determine an exact cause.”

The owner of AZ Investments, which owns the building which included Fat Cats and Balloon Bar, previously spoke to Chronicle & Echo following the fire.

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A spokesman for AZ Investments previously said: “I’m frustrated. I knew this was coming and I tried to warn people.”

The spokesman for the company said he has had numerous issues with “homeless people and drug users” breaking into the property in recent months and years.

The former Angel Hotel building was built in 1814-16 and spreads across number 21-23 Bridge Street, incorporating the once hugely popular nightspots of Balloon Bar and Fat Cats which would be packed with revellers most nights.

In January 2012 a huge fire ripped through Fat Cats, which was accidentally started by a roofer’s torch.

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Following the 2012 blaze, Fat Cats never opened again and has been held up by eyesore scaffolding ever since Balloon Bar reopened in July 2013, later closing down for good in 2019.

AZ Investments bought Fat Cats in 2015 and Balloon Bar in April 2022 – both of which have sat empty ever since.

In March this year, the owners were given planning permission to part-demolish and convert the Grade II listed building into 44 flats and commercial space, having applied in April 2022.