Council set to purchase Northampton university campus to develop up to 170 new homes

The aquisition of the Grade II listed Newton Building is no longer required

Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 3:43 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 3:44 pm
The council is seeking to acquire the University of Northampton's Avenue campus in St George's Avenue
The council is seeking to acquire the University of Northampton's Avenue campus in St George's Avenue

The purchase of a university campus site by West Northamptonshire Council to allow the development of up to 170 new affordable homes is set for the green light.

Members of the council's cabinet are set to consider the application at its meeting tonight (June 8).

The council is seeking to acquire the University of Northampton's Avenue campus in St George's Avenue. The aquisition of the Grade II listed Newton Building is no longer required.

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Cabinet is being recommended to delegate to the executive director for place, economy and the environment in consultation with the cabinet portfolio holder for finance and cabinet portfolio holder for culture, leisure and housing, the completion of the acquisition of the campus excluding the Newton Building to enable development to be taken forward.

A cabinet report states that as the university has now relocated most of its functions to its new Waterside Campus, the Avenue Campus is surplus to its requirements.

Following a marketing campaign, the university agreed to sell the Avenue Campus including the Newton Building to Northampton Borough Council.

In November 2020, the council’s planning committee made a resolution to grant planning permission in respect of the university's hybrid planning application for up to 170 new homes.

This included full planning consent for the part demolition, conversion and extension of the Maidwell Building to provide 58 new homes; Outline planning consent for the demolition and conversion of the remaining buildings on the site (excluding the Newton Building which was not part of the application); and the erection of new buildings to provide residential accommodation of up to 112 homes.

The report states that on 20 January 2021, the borough council's cabinet noted Northampton Partnership Homes’ intention to relocate from the Westbridge Depot site to the Newton Building, subject to agreement with the council on the terms of the lease.

It goes on to state: 'The original assumption in the NBC Cabinet report was that the Newton Building was required for office accommodation and provision for the acquisition was included in the Housing Revenue Account Capital Programme.

'WNC officers are clear that if there was a requirement for the Newton Building to be used for office accommodation then there is not the ability to charge the acquisition to the HRA. It would have to be a general fund purchase.

'There is no budget in the general fund capital programme to support the acquisition of the Newton Building and therefore if there was the desire to purchase the Newton Building then an additional capital budget would need to be approved by full council before being able to proceed.

'However, this point is largely academic as there is a more fundamental issue in that officers do not believe there is currently any need for further office accommodation to be held by the council as it has sufficient office accommodation with its existing estate to accommodate all office accommodation needs.

'Therefore, it would not be good use of public funds to acquire further office accommodation when there is currently no requirement for it and this approach cannot be supported.

'As a result, the advice is that the acquisition of Newton Building by the Council should not proceed.'