Demolition and redevelopment of Spring Boroughs flats agreed by council cabinet

The demolition and redevelopment of two 1960s blocks of flats in Spring Boroughs has been given the green light by Northampton Borough Council’s cabinet.

Thursday, 14th November 2019, 4:42 pm
St Mary's Court in Spring Boroughs is one of the flats that will be demolished to make way for the new homes

The £15.9million scheme received the rubber stamp from senior Conservative councillors last night (November 13) at The Guildhall.

It will see Berkeley House (60 flats in four blocks) and St Mary’s Court (22 flats in three blocks) bulldozed and replaced by 126 new affordable homes. The project will be carried out by Northampton Partnership Homes.

The new homes will include 62 one-bed apartments, 40 two-bed apartments, five two-bed houses, 17 three-bed houses and two four-bed houses.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Speaking at last night’s cabinet meeting, Councillor Stephen Hibbert – portfolio holder for housing – said that scheme was planned to take three years to deliver.

Opposition councillors also welcomed the ‘Roof Gardens’ development, named because it will include two roof gardens, a communal garden and an area of new planting on Horsemarket. The scheme was granted planning permission back in July.

A council report said the current blocks were ‘badly designed, of poor construction and are thermally inefficient’.

The papers added: ‘Where possible, leaseholders who have lived in their homes continuously for at least the last 12 months will be given the option to return by purchasing their new home outright, purchasing their new home through a shared ownership lease or following a comprehensive affordability assessment, being rehoused from the Housing Register in a rented home.

Of the 48 council tenants who have moved out of Berkeley House and St Mary’s Court, 21 have expressed a desire to return to ‘The Roof Gardens’ when it is completed and ready to live in.

Councillor Danielle Stone, the leader of the Labour party, welcomed the news but wanted to see more social rents form part of the new housing. The council report said that ‘social rents options should be discounted on financial grounds because social rents for this scheme do not work financially’.

She said: “I’m a ward councillor for this area and I welcome anything that further enhances the Spring Boroughs area.

“These blocks have been an eyesore for years and years and have been unfit to live in with damp and cold. This new development will be a pleasure and the way the residents have been consulted has been exemplary with only a couple of hiccups that I know about.

“There’s only one thing I would say, and that is the section that says social rent should be discounted on financial grounds. I find that very hard to accept. The difference between affordable and social is about 20 per cent.

“Because it’s a prime site in the town centre there will be pressure to gentrify that area. We have resisted that so far, but we do not want gentrification on our back door. I want to see social rents.”

Councillor Hibbert said that the council had ‘not given up entirely’ on the idea of involving some social housing.