Making Northampton town centre flats liveable for homeless households would be ‘uneconomical’

Many of the flats at Berkeley House and St Marys Court are not in a good enough state to let out, according to the council
Many of the flats at Berkeley House and St Marys Court are not in a good enough state to let out, according to the council

Two vacant Northampton town centre flats have not been offered to homeless households because it would not be ‘economical’ to bring them up to a liveable standard.

Northampton Borough Council said it had been intending to use the flats at Berkeley House and St Mary’s Court, which are set to be redeveloped, to ease the numbers on the register of people requiring housing. But in response to a question from a local resident, it said that the flats were not in a fit enough state to be lived in.

In a written question to the council, housing campaigner Norman Adams said: “On August 5 this year, 54 of the flats affected by the Berkeley House and St Mary’s Court development site were sitting empty with no tenants. According to the borough council’s housing regeneration policy, the council would consider placing homeless households into those sitting empty with no tenants. Did the council consider placing homeless households into those homes?”

The borough council’s policy states that when homes become empty prior to redevelopment, as it gradually decants the secure tenants and purchases the homeowners’ properties, it would consider placing homeless households into those homes on a temporary basis until the site is vacated and works can begin.

But the response, from cabinet member for housing Councillor Stephen Hibbert, said: “It was always intended that the council would use the flats in Berkeley House and St Mary’s Court as temporary accommodation when they became vacant. However, when the tenants subsequently moved out, Northampton Partnership Homes advised the council that none of the flats were in a fit state to be re-let and that the high cost of bringing them up to a lettable standards for use as temporary accommodation was uneconomic.”

Councillors approved the demolition of the existing residential blocks at Berkeley House and St Mary’s Court, to the west of the A508 Horsemarket, on July 30. They will be replaced with 126 new dwellings - including 62 one-bed apartments, 40 two-bed apartments, five two-bed houses, 17 three-bed houses and two four-bed houses.

Residents of the current properties were given the opportunity to relocate in February, which many did. But no date for construction to begin has yet been given.

Councillor Hibbert added however that, at the council’s request, Northampton Partnership Homes has agreed to revisit all of the empty flats to confirm if any of them can be used as temporary accommodation.