Plan to demolish former Northampton Debenhams building to build student flats recommended for approval

The proposal includes 201 student flats, a gym and a retail unit

Thursday, 30th September 2021, 7:57 am

A planning application to demolish the former Debenhams building in Northampton to build student flats has been recommended for approval.

Debenhams in Drapery closed in May this year after the national chain entered administration and had to close all its stores.

Prior to the closure, a planning application was submitted to Northampton Borough Council (now West Northamptonshire Council) to demolish the building and redevelop it to create 201 student flats.

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How the students flat could look in Drapery.

The plans also detail a retail unit, refuse and cycle storage, rooftops, study areas and a gym for use by residents only.

These plans will be discussed by the council’s planning committee at a meeting on Tuesday (October 5).

Ahead of the meeting, planning officers who filed a report on the application have recommended that the proposal is approved as long as a number of conditions are met.

The conditions include that work has to begin on the site within three years of an approval and other considerations such as noise, asbestos, lighting and more.

Debenhams was a big part of the town centre for decades.

To reach the decision to recommend approval, planning officers consider comments from the public and a number of organisations. Four organisations objected, four made no comment and six raised no objections. The full report can be found here.

In a design and access statement, the proposal for the student accommodation outlined the lack of natural daylight in the centre of the building.

To combat this the developers plan to create a central courtyard by demolishing the middle section of the former retail store.

The design and access statement says: "The principal move is to create a new central courtyard within the centre of the urban block.

“This courtyard will provide light and outlook to the residential accommodation and generate a social heart to the development and engender a sense of community.

"The aim is to create a friendly, safe community within the historic fabric of Northampton."

Access to the building will be from the Drapery, with secondary entrances from Swan Yard Lane and College Street.

Prior to the closure, Debenhams had been a presence in Northampton since 1952 when it bought the Adnitt Brothers store in the Drapery, rebranding it in 1973.

It was also the last of the town’s department stores to close for good following the loss of BHS, M&S and House of Fraser.