A planning application for the University of Northampton's international centre of excellence for leather has been submitted.
The plans are the first phase of a project to create an Institute for Creative Leather Technologies and a leather conservation centre. The second phase will build a centre for small creative industries to support up to 100 businesses in the first 10 years, creating up to 300 jobs.
The application has been produced in conjunction with Northampton Borough Council.
Jane Bunce, director of student and academic services, said: “This planning application, if approved by the council’s planning committee, will enable the Vulcan Works to become a fantastic focal point to showcase the town’s rich heritage of leather trade and industry.
“The Institute for Creative Leather Technologies and Leather Conservation Centre will reinvigorate the town’s cultural quarter through the University’s academic activities, industry connections and the support available for those working within the creative industries.”
Work will start on the £12.445 million facility in the new year.
The Institute for Creative Leather Technologies would be housed in the Grade II listed Vulcan Works building in Guildhall Road, featuring bespoke laboratories for the University’s leather technology courses.
It will include innovation, analytical, and research labs, and a microscopy room, alongside teaching spaces, offices and workshops.
The managed workspaces are designed to be an incubator for new and existing creative industries, with units between 13sqm and 85sqm available. These will benefit from a managed reception and shared kitchens.
Councillor Tim Hadland, council cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and planning, said: “This is a big step forward for the project, which will help cement our Cultural Quarter’s place as a regionally significant destination.
“Northampton is a hive of creativity and this centre will become a focus for that activity, generating real benefits for the businesses involved, and our town centre’s vitality.”
Once complete, the leatherworking elements will be taken by the University on a long lease with an option to buy. The managed workspaces will be operated by the University on behalf of the council, which will retain ownership.