Multi-million-pound Vulcan Works redevelopment heralded as a springboard for Northampton town centre

Northampton Borough Council leader Jonathan Nunn lays final piece of new roof to mark progress on office project

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 7:08 am

A £14 million transformation of the old Vulcan Works has been heralded as a springboard for attracting more employment in Northampton town centre.

The collection of derelict structures between Guildhall Road, Angel Street, Fetter Street and St John’s Street, plus two new buildings, are being turned into offices specifically for creative businesses.

The Chronicle & Echo was given a tour of the site as Northampton Borough Council leader Jonathan Nunn laid the final piece of a new roof yesterday (Wednesday, January 29).

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Northampton Borough Council leader Jonathan Nunn and Stepnell regional director Adrian Barnes at the topping-out ceremony at the Vulcan Works site
Northampton Borough Council leader Jonathan Nunn and Stepnell regional director Adrian Barnes at the topping-out ceremony at the Vulcan Works site

Council member for regeneration and enterprise Tim Hadland said: "It's going to bring opportunities for creative, new start-up businesses and businesses that want to move out of their bedroom, where often these things to start, to work together.

"It will provide synergy for them and a springboard for this area in the cultural quarter.

"It's all about the future because the majority of people here are going to be young and what we need them to do is to grow in Northampton, stay here and support our local economy.

"We hope it will provide a catalyst for businesses right across the borough and the wider area."

The steelwork is done on the new St John's Street building at the Vulcan Works site

Work began to turn the Vulcan Works into 59 lettable units in March 2019 and is due to be completed by the end of the year.

The spaces will vary in size and features, with some having access to Angel Street, and there will also be meeting rooms, management offices and a cafe.

Cllr Nunn said: "We think this scheme is going to put this whole place in good stead for a long time and create lots of jobs.

"It will be an asset for the town where previously we had a little bit of a weakness as it was not a terribly attractive looking set of buildings."

Inside the ground floor of the new Angel Street building at the Vulcan Works site, which will eventually be offices with access to the road

The work has been delayed as some of the buildings date back 150 years and had been neglected so builders Stepnell spent more time than expected finding out what was and was not usable.

They found some of the old wooden structures were rotten, some walls had to be repaired and they even found a six-foot well.

The building closest to Guildhall Road needed a whole new roof which is what Cllr Nunn completed - soon the scaffolding will be down and it will be visible to the public.

Everything had to be approved by conservation officers as much of the site is listed and as much as of the structures had to be restored rather than replaced, adding time to the scheme.

The middle of the Vulcan Works site with the new Angel Street building in the background

But that has now been completed and Stepnell regional director Adrian Barnes is confident they will be finished on-site before Christmas.

"At Stepnell we really appreciate the care and sensitivity that needs to be taken with town centre redevelopments.

"So that's been borne out with how we've worked with the team here and we've made sure things have been done correctly so they can last for another length of time.

"There are a lot of new materials we are merging with existing structures so that period of discovery we're through that so we can now march towards our completion before Christmas this year."

Mr Barnes said the walls of the St John's Street building will soon be visible above the hoarding while an operator for the offices will be appointed in the summer.

Around £9 million of the funding is being provided by South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) with the rest coming from the council.

Cllr Nunn believes the scheme is worth spending the money on as the town will reap the benefits from the future businesses it will support.

"Long-term, the commercial returns will be strong in terms of business rates coming back in and the new jobs created, which will put money into the economy," he said.

"So there's absolutely no doubt the business case stacks up. But to kick it off it needed that public money put in."