Plan for Northampton former BHS store includes a garden centre

BHS closed both its Northampton stores in April 2016
BHS closed both its Northampton stores in April 2016

A planning application sets out proposals for a vacant former BHS store in Northampton.

Bosses at The Range, a furniture store, want to turn the St James Retail Park unit into its latest outlet, bringing back into use a building that has stood empty since April 2016.

Like many of its stores, the Northampton one would feature a garden centre at the back and a cafe upstairs on a newly-created mezzanine floor.

The application to Northampton Borough Council reveals that the building was initially to have been divided between The Range and clothing retailers Go Outdoors.

However the latter firm pulled out earlier this year, and bosses at The Range were happy to fill the extra space upstairs when it was subsequently offered.

Planning consultants Quod, who are paid by The Range, presented the advantages of having the unit filled.

"It will assist with bringing the unit back into productive economic use," it says.

"It makes no contribution to the local economy, either through employment opportunities or as a location for consumer spending."

If approved by a panel of borough councillors, The Range has promised to employ about 50 people in part-time or full-time roles.

"It is worth noting that part time roles have significant social inclusion benefits as they provide opportunities for people who cannot commit to a full-time role to be part of the workforce."

Northampton had two BHS stores when the company went into administration more than two years ago.

The other store, in Abington Street, has been bought by Oxford London Estates Group but their intentions for it are .

Company director Roni Chotoveli told the Chron last month that he hopes the unit will be filled by a hybrid of flats, shops and leisure use. However he was inviting Northampton's entrepreneurs to come up with specific ideas.