Mystery surrounds reopening of major street in Northampton eight months after massive fire at former nightclub building

The road has been closed since August
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A major street in Northampton town centre is still closed following a huge fire eight months ago – and no one in charge is saying anything about when it will reopen.

Bridge Street has been partially closed since August 23 following a massive fire at the former Fat Cats Cafe and Balloon Bar building.

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In December, West Northants Council (WNC) served legal papers to the owner of the building, AZ Investments, demanding the building be made safe which would allow the road to reopen.

Here's how Bridge Street is lookingHere's how Bridge Street is looking
Here's how Bridge Street is looking

A WNC spokesman previously said: “During a First Tier Tribunal hearing the building owners, following discussion with the council, agreed that they would carry out initial work by 12 April 2024, this will include installation of a retaining structure to the front wall of the building to prevent collapse, and clearance of loose fire damaged material to allow safe access.”

This newspaper contacted both WNC and AZ Investments on Friday (April 12) asking for an update. We are still awaiting responses from both parties.

So, at the time of writing (Wednesday, April 17), the road remains closed and the latest update regarding the demolition works remains a mystery.

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AZ Investments told this newspaper in March that the whole building needed to come down, instead of just making it safe inside. WNC never publicly responded to that idea.

An AZ investments spokesman previously said: “The professionals have recommended the whole thing needs to come down, the former Fat Cats included, which is what we have planning permission for. It’s not safe anymore.

"What I’ve said to the council is if we can start the demolition work, my team will stay on-site, starting works immediately, and within six to eight weeks, that whole scaffolding, that whole site will be clear.”

The road closure has had a major knock-on effect to the businesses in the area, and thousands of motorists who are being diverted away from Bridge Street.

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Bridge Street-based Jackson Stops estate agent Nick Pattison said: “There has been no communication from WNC or the building owners. I have been staring at scaffolding across the road for over 10 years so it’s become part of the landscape.

"Pedestrians still get abused by cyclists and mopeds using the footpath and despite reporting to the police, nothing will get done until someone is seriously hurt.

"For a major arterial road into Northampton town centre to be closed for so long isn’t good for any business – I now know how the market traders feel and I can’t think of any other town in the midlands that this would be left for so long.”

WNC said no to Nick’s calls for discounts in business rates reductions.

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