Plans set to be REFUSED to convert empty Northampton town shopping centre into 352 student flats

This would be the SECOND time the plans have been refused for the exact same reasons

By Logan MacLeod
Friday, 29th April 2022, 8:15 am

Plans to convert an empty Northampton shopping centre into a 352 student flat complex have been recommended for REFUSAL by the council.

Urban Village Group Ltd, the applicant, submitted proposals in September to West Northamptonshire Council to convert the vacant Market Walk shopping centre.

However, those plans are set to be refused at the next planning committee meeting on Wednesday (May 4) due to concerns with “unacceptable” living conditions inside the flats.

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An artist's impression of what the 352 block of flats could look like

In a pre planning committee report, WNC said: "The design of the scheme is considered to be unacceptable and would have a harmful impact upon the character and appearance of the host property, neighbouring street scenes, the conservation area, and the setting of neighbouring listed buildings.

"Furthermore the proposal is considered to provide entirely unacceptable living conditions for future occupants of the development. It is recommended that planning permission is refused."

WNC added that the proposed extensions would also result in a “stark, dominating, overpowering, obtrusive and incongruous appearance”.

Within the plans, Urban Village Group said “approximately 95 percent of all rooms achieve or surpass the minimum recommendation [for sunlight]”, which is “a very high level of compliance in the context of an urban development site”.

Market Walk has been stood vacant for years and has become the subject of two major planning applications

This is set to be the second time WNC has refused Urban Village Group's proposals for Market Walk.

The applicant previously submitted similar plans but for 395 student flats instead of 352. They were refused in November 2020 for the exact same reasons: a lack of sunlight inside the apartments.

Following this first refusal, Urban Village Group's Operations manager, Liz Foley, threatened to take the firm's £23 million elsewhere.

In other news regarding Market Walk, a different, separate, set of plans were submitted by the owners of the building, Safeland PLC, to convert the site into a multi-use complex which would comprise of a indoor market, gym, hotel, and flats.

These plans propose to build an indoor market on the ground floor, a pod hotel and five flats on the second floor, 20 flats and a gym on a new third floor, and the creation of a new fourth and fifth floor to accommodate for a combined 30 flats. A decision is yet to be made by WNC.

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