Plans to convert empty Northampton office block into new flats awarded planning permission

Plans to convert an empty town centre office block into new apartments for ‘key workers’ have been granted planning permission.
An artist's impression of the how The Clock House will look.An artist's impression of the how The Clock House will look.
An artist's impression of the how The Clock House will look.

Belgrave House, an empty office block built in the 1970s, is attached to the Grosvenor Centre and lies opposite the empty site where the former Greyfriars bus station used to be.

Northampton Borough Council (NBC) agreed in May to purchase the site and redevelop it by entering into a 35-year repairing and insuring finance lease deal with Legal & General, after which NBC will be assigned the remainder of the 936-year lease for £1.

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The council’s housing company, Northampton Partnership Homes (NPH), has now swiftly been awarded planning permission to carry out the conversion and addition of two new upper floors to create 122 apartments for affordable housing.

Belgrave House has stood empty for many years.Belgrave House has stood empty for many years.
Belgrave House has stood empty for many years.

The proposed apartments – which is set to be called The Clock House – would comprise 70 one-bed units and 52 two-bed units, with the 11-storey high building offering ‘affordable’ homes for key workers in both the public sector and private sector who live within walking distance of the town centre.

These employers are expected to include Northampton General Hospital, Northamptonshire Police, Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service, the new unitary West Northamptonshire Council and local retail and leisure businesses.

Members of the planning committee unanimously approved the application when it met last week (July 28).

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Councillor Matt Golby asked whether cladding panels for the apartments met fire and safety requirements, with William Jacobs, speaking on behalf of NPH, responding: “With the reports coming back from the tragedy in London [the Grenfell fire] we vigorously looked at all materials going on the outside of the building to be non-combustible.”

He added: “I can give you assurances that we have had two meetings with the fire brigade and everyone is looking through the design and picking it apart.”

Mr Jacobs also indicated they were hoping to strike a deal that would see the top two floors of the Grosvenor multi-storey car park, made up of 163 spaces, allocated for residents of the apartment. But these proposals did not form part of the application, and were approved as an application with zero parking as the highways department at the county council had raised no objections.

The scheme impressed members of the committee, with Councillor Anna King saying: “I think this will be a great asset for the town centre and is much needed for key workers who have been so great for us.”

Councillor Golby said he hoped the scheme would ‘act as a catalyst’ for the regeneration of the area.

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