Complete overhaul plan could turn Belgrave House into 124 'worker' flats at heart of Northampton town centre
Northampton Partnership Homes unveils plans to turn derelict town centre office block into flats especially for workers.
What words can be used to describe the former Belgrave House office block in town?
“It’s not pretty. That’s one way to put it, “says Northampton Partnership Homes chief executive Mike Kay.
But now the derelict office block could be on the cusp of finding a new lease on life.
It will be called The Clock House – a complete redevelopment of Belgrave to create 124 flats in Northampton town centre. It will be spearheaded by NPH and the borough council.
But in contrast to the apartments in neighbouring Northampton House, these flats will have a twist.
Instead of being sold in the standard manner, the flats in The Clock House will offer a new kind of social housing. They will be offered as a priority to residents who work within walking distance of the flat block.
“There is a crucial need to attract workers with skills to Northampton,” says Mike Kay. “But they cannot necessarily afford to.
“The Clock House has been designed to offer affordable living in the heart of town.
“Everyone deserves to have a nice place to call home, and in the end, your whole life revolves around having a roof over your head. This project is as much about regenerating Northampton as it building a great place to live.”
The plans are extensive. The current scale of the scheme is to create 79 one-bed flats and 45 two-bed flats out of the derelict office block. To do this, two new floors will be added to add room.
Inspired by “living” buildings in the Far East, a rooftop garden with solar panels are being discussed and each flat will feature floor-to-ceiling insulated windows to promote energy efficiency.
There is even potential to let out the top floor of the Grosvenor Centre’s car park just for residents.
NPH’s assistant director Helen Town said: “So many key places to work will be in walking distance: the hospital, fire station, shopping centres, pubs, businesses, kebab shops... Public or private sector, we want to give people a chance to afford to live in town.
“And if people live in town they will spend in town too.”
The Clock House could take as much as four years to become a reality – but the regeneration of Northampton could start here.The complete plan to breath new life into tired Belgrave House office blockThe Clock House plan comes only one year after Belgrave House seemed destined to become student housing. That plan fell through – but now the office block could be so much more.
The application has drastic changes in mind – from building two new floors on top of the office block to installing a lift shaft.
But a lot of work will go into “softening” the monolithic building into a new Northampton landmark. Stained glass and varnished metal will adorn the Clock House from top to bottom embossed with a floral design, and will light up with ambient colours at night. Solar panels and rooftop plants are also on the table.
And, not least of all, two large clock faces will be specially crafted to face out over the town on the north and south sides.
The en-suite flats will feature ceiling-to-floor windows, Juliette balconies and walk-in wardrobes. Along with extensive renovations to Belgrave’s entrances, the building will employ a concierge service for security and flat management.
Is this the new lease on life Belgrave has been waiting for?
Councillor Stephen Hibbert, Northampton Borough Council Cabinet member for housing and wellbeing, said: “This will be a fantastic scheme offering affordable housing for key workers and others who work in the town and are in lower wage professions or starting out in their careers.
“What is currently an unattractive empty office building will undergo a complete transformation, giving it a new lease of life, providing much needed further housing, and helping reinvigorate that part of the town.
Now all that's left is Greyfriars...The Clock House plan is another cog in what could be a wider regeneration effort in Northampton. But a crucial piece is missing – what will become of the Greyfriars site?The Clock House has been announced as other plans begin to make progress. Only two weeks ago, a proposal was put forward to renovate the former Balestra nightclub and the derelict Corn Exchange into a student accommodation block and a buffet restaurant (although both were criticised by the police, who told developers to go back to the drawing board).
Nearby, NorFAMton has worked to turn the unloved underpass into a vibrant outdoor event space.
The borough council is in the running for £25m of funding to renovate Market Square and huge swathes of the town. And the troubled Market Walk is now on sale for £2m – which could bring a new vision if a new owner is found.
Councillor Jonathan Nunn, Leader of the Council and Chair of the Northampton Forward board, added: “While our work with Northampton Partnership Homes on this project predates Northampton Forward, it is a perfect fit with the town centre masterplan that is currently under development, as it is both good for town regeneration and increases residential use within the town centre.”
But still, the empty Greyfriars plot is waiting for someone to bring it to life. With it on board, Northampton could be a completely different town in as little as 10 years.