Restaurant and apartments to replace former Oliver Adams cafe in Northampton town centre

Lawrence's coffee shop in St Giles Street shut last year after the Oliver Adams company went bust. it could now be turned into a restaurant and flats.
Lawrence's coffee shop in St Giles Street shut last year after the Oliver Adams company went bust. it could now be turned into a restaurant and flats.

A former Oliver Adams-owned cafe in Northampton town centre could be converted into restaurant and flats if a council board approved the scheme.

Lawrence's coffee house and bakery in St Giles Street shut in May last year after the Oliver Adams company folded.

Staff at the venue, which had been open in the town for more than 25 years, had resorted to buying cakes and napkins from their tips in the final days of the doomed company.

But less than a year after the doors of the cafe closure, proposals are set to go to the planning board asking to turn the ground floor into a restaurant and the upstairs floors into two separate apartments.

Although a conservation group has raised some concerns over alterations to the two listed, 1864 townhouses, planning officers at Northampton Borough Council recommend the plans for approval.

An officers' report to go to the planning board reads: "The proposed works would result in the loss of some historic fabric as a result of the widening of the existing central ground floor opening.

"This harm is, however, less than substantial and would be outweighed by the benefits of securing a viable future for the whole of the premises and thereby ensuring a continuing viable future for the listed building."

The upper floor rooms of both 35 and 37 Giles Street have been underused for many years and the applicants, Northampton Municipal Churches Charity, say the scheme is the best way of bringing them back into use.

Attempts to market the cafe area for use as it is have failed so far and it is believed the site would have more chance of attracting a business to lease the ground floor if it were a restaurant.

The historical facades of the building would be largely retained, though there would be alterations to the panelling currently seen around the former cafe front.

Planning officers have asked that the brass J Lawrence & Co Ltd sign is retained in some way.

The plans will be voted on by the planning board councillors on Tuesday, March 13, at the Guildhall.