NPH to purchase former University of Northampton campus for ‘affordable homes’
Planning permission was recently granted by the council’s planning committee for 170 homes to be built on the St George’s Avenue site. It will see parts of the Maidwell building demolished, and the rest of the building utilised for 58 flats.
Now the borough council’s cabinet has approved a bid from its property company Northampton Partnership Homes (NPH) to acquire the site, which will also include the Newton Building.
Councillor Stephen Hibbert, cabinet member for housing, said: “The University is vacating the site shortly, with its primary functions now down at the Waterside campus.
“We’re looking to Homes England and Right to Buy receipts to help secure the provision of affordable housing on this site. There will be a follow-up report on all of the housing proposals and on the future of the Newton Building particularly in January next year. This proposal of course fulfils the Local Plan Part 2 and I think we’re anticipating that we will get more than 170 houses on the site, so that’s a good thing all round.”
Councillor Hibbert said that they were also considering using some of the buildings on a short-term basis to offer temporary accommodation, though that proposal was ‘still under consideration’.
In June 2020, the University of Northampton commenced a marketing campaign to sell the campus and on behalf of the council, NPH submitted a bid to purchase the site during a competitive bidding process.
Council leader Jonathan Nunn praised the University for opting for the NPH bid, saying they could arguably have made better profits from other bidders. He said: “We know the University’s tender process factored significant weight on social value, and we have some experience of seeking to acquire land for social housing from public bodies who don’t place that value on social value and therefore sell to the highest bidder. I think the University might have earned financially more out of this, but you’ve seen tonight the co-operation we have with the University.”
The costs of funding the project have been made exempt from public knowledge due to commercial sensitivities.
At the same cabinet meeting, a number of other affordable home projects were also approved, including 44 new flats at Lion Court near the Waterside campus.
Cabinet member for economic regeneration, Councillor Tim Hadland, said: “Here we are at the end of 2020, a COVID year with all that did against activity in general, and we have just approved 214 new affordable homes on top of all the hundreds we’ve already approved this year. It’s been one heck of a year and everyone who made it happen should be congratulated.”