Plans unveiled to turn former Nationwide bank in busy Northampton street into HMO for students

Last summer police discovered around 190 cannabis plants being grown - estimated to be worth up to £10,000 - inside the building

By Logan MacLeod
Monday, 12th July 2021, 4:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 12:12 am

Plans have been submitted to turn a former bank in a busy Northampton street into a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) for students.

Proposals have been put forward to West Northamptonshire Council to convert the ex Nationwide Bank in St Leonard's Road, Far Cotton, into eight bedrooms for mature students, with two rooms allocated for wheelchair users.

The applicant, a Mr Baldwin, and the agent, Plan My Property, said in a design and access statement that there is 'zero demand' for retail use in this part of town.

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The former Nationwide branch in St Leonard's Road, Far Cotton

The applicant said in the planning papers: "The whole building needs a complete refurbishment, and the cost of these repairs and investment is not justifiable when there are existing retail units readily available in more accessible locations.

"This is the main reason this site needs to be redeveloped, because there is zero demand for retail use in this part of town due to the lack of footfall and uncertainty of the economy.

"There is, however, a high demand for student accommodation outside of campus for mature students who wish to live outside the university bubble, but still within a close reach when they need access. Our site has the benefit of being close to the university, and also close to entertainment, shops and recreation."

According to the plans, the site cannot provide any parking but would make room for six bicycle storage units.

This is what the building used to look like before it closed down in 2019

The applicant said in the planning papers: "Students rely more on cycles than cars, and this would certainly encourage sustainable living considering the university is just a three-minute cycle ride away.

"We understand the stigma attached to HMOs and parking and we would like to take this opportunity to clarify that our scheme will have no negative impact to the parking associated with this building."

The applicant added: "This building has been left to deteriorate for many years now so it is in the council's best interest to allow this application to proceed."

Nationwide announced in July 2019 that it would be closing down its Far Cotton, Weedon Road and Kingsley Park Terrace branches due to a drop in footfall.

And then in June last year, police discovered around 190 cannabis plants being grown, estimated to be worth up to £10.000, inside the Far Cotton branch.