'Save The Depot' campaigners fear council could demolish historic Northampton landmark and build social housing on it
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Campaigners trying to ‘save’ an historic landmark in Northampton from being “demolished and turned into social housing” have spoken out.
A grassroots campaign called ‘Save The Depot’ has been started by the Northampton Transport Heritage group (NTH), who say the site is “under threat”.
Chair of the NTH, Graham Croucher, says he has been told by a senior figure at West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) that the local authority is interested in buying the site and converting it into social housing.
Mr Croucher said: “We understand the council would like to demolish it and build social housing on the site. I was told that by a senior figure at the council.
“If you turn an industrial unit that size into housing it causes lots of traffic problems. We think there would be too many houses on that site for the area.”
Chronicle & Echo asked WNC: Does the council have plans to buy the former St James Bus Depot? If so, can WNC shed some light on this process? What is going on?
A WNC spokeswoman responded, saying: “We remain in dialogue with Church’s over the sale of the site, we will happily offer further details when we have them.”
It is not yet known who has bought the site or what their plans for it are, however.
Church’s, who is believed to be the seller of the site, has been contacted for comment.
Mr Croucher went on to explain the cultural significance of the site and how important it is to “bring it into the 21st Century”.
He said: “NTH is currently working to put together a listed building application because it’s got historical significance. It would be good if members of the public could contact us with any information regarding the history of the building and the artefacts documents, that kind of thing to support the application.
“In Northamptonshire it’s the only building of its type. You have to go miles across the country to find anything similar. There’s nothing nearby of that nature or quite as original in terms of the facilities it provided. Its contribution to the town’s growth is significant.
“Northampton is not just famous for boots and shoes. It’s famous for lots of other things. This tram system took these boot and shoe workers to work. It was the backbone of that industry. You could go from St James to Kingsley. Kingsthorpe to Far Cotton. Then there was St James to Wellingborough Road. Before trams finished in 1934 on the 15 of December.
"Next year will be the 120th year of that building’s existence, so it would be a shame if it was demolished.
“We would like to see the town, the council have a bit of vision about them and create a really attractive visitor centre. You go elsewhere, Glasgow, for example, they have converted a tram car shed building. Richmond in North Yorkshire, the old railway station has been converted into a multi-use community facility with a cinema etc.
"This could become a multi-purpose community heritage hub. In a utopian world, we’d like to see some sort of large exhibit transport museum, like the Coventry transport museum for example. That could be something really special. There’s lots and lots of uses for the site if we use our imaginations. We can bring this site into the 21st century.”