Councillors approve flat scheme for former leatherworks factory in Northampton town centre

The former Dickens Bros site will soon become flats
The former Dickens Bros site will soon become flats

A former leatherworks factory in Northampton town centre will be converted into new apartments.

The old Dickens Brothers building will be turned into 25 one-bedroom flats after councillors on Northampton Borough Council’s planning committee approved the scheme last night (October 22).

The flats will be accessed through an archway on Kettering Road

The flats will be accessed through an archway on Kettering Road

The factory, sandwiched in a courtyard between Kettering Road, St Michael’s Road and Dunster Road, was built in the late 1800s as part of Dickens Bros’ expansion from its original premises in Victoria Street. Workers prepared leather for the shoe industry in the town’s industrial heyday, but the company was dissolved following voluntary liquidation last month (September 2019).

The property has been vacant for two years and had been marketed for commercial purposes since June 2018 without any success. Applicants Elsevier Group Ltd signed a mortgage deed with Lloyds Bank for the property in August 2017.

After decades as a workplace, it will now follow many of Northampton’s former factories in becoming new homes for residents, with conservation officers at the borough council saying the conversion is acceptable as a means of ‘securing a viable future for the building’.

Councillors were told the property is in a ‘poor state of repair’ with considerable work required to bring the building up to standard.

Councillor Jamie Lane, a member of the planning committee, said: “It makes good use of a building that was in rack and ruin.”

The homes will be accessed through the current entrance, an ‘attractive archway’ on Kettering Road that leads to the courtyard.