Huge 'world buffet' restaurant planned for former Northampton nightclub building

An application has been submitted to transform a former nightclub in Northampton town centre to a restaurant and cafe with student accommodation above.

The building is on the Market Square has had many uses over the years (see our pictorial history here) and was most recently used as the Balestra nightclub, which closed in 2013.

Inside Balestra following its closure. The nightclub fittings "have no aesthetic or architectural value", say planning consultants CgMs.

Inside Balestra following its closure. The nightclub fittings "have no aesthetic or architectural value", say planning consultants CgMs.

It was snapped up in 2014 after being on sale for £800,000 and council papers reveal it is now owned by Cosmo Restaurants, which has 19 world buffet restaurants across the UK.

The massive 42,000 sq ft floorspace will not intimidate the company, which opened Britain's biggest restaurant in Croydon in 2010. If approved, the Northampton restaurant would employ about 40 staff.

Writing to Guildhall planning officers, consultants Gregory Gray Associates said they had been in talks with the council since 2017 in relation to heritage impact.

They say: "The proposals are commended to the authority in terms of the positive heritage and public benefits.

The building has now been boarded up.

The building has now been boarded up.

"It will secure the optimal long-term-future for the building and positively benefit the local economy."

Above the restaurant will be three floors of student accommodation, with 69 studio flats and bedsits.

The height and cavernous nature of the building is owed to the fact it used to be the town's grand Corn Exchange.It has been extended and changed over time and used as a YMCA, dance hall, music hall and cinema.

Following the closure of the cinema the building was used as a bingo hall before being converted into a bar and nightclub. The nightclub use ceased in 2013. The property has since remained vacant.

It was first offered for sale in January 2012 for £1.1 million. It attracted few offers, mainly because of the poor condition of the upper floors, which prospective buyers could see little commercial use for.

After the price reduction, to £800,000 four offers were submitted but declined. One was from a nightclub, whose bid failed to progress past heads of terms.

Cosmo bought the building in May 2014, but the sale price has not been disclosed in the council papers.