Turn £500k office block into homeless flats says Northampton opposition leader

Albion House in Victoria Promenade was bought in 2014 with the hope it could be demolished it to make way for a multi-storey car park.
Albion House in Victoria Promenade was bought in 2014 with the hope it could be demolished it to make way for a multi-storey car park.

An empty former office block bought by the council for £500,000 three years ago should now be used to house the homeless after plans to demolish the site have stalled.

That is according to the Liberal Democrat group on the town's borough council who say Albion house, adjacent to the St John's multistorey in Victoria Promenade, has stood without tenants for too long.

Borough chiefs bought the office block as a strategic acquisition back in 2014 with the hope of extending St John's by a further 350 spaces.

Then, back in 2016, cabinet member for regeneration Councillor Tim Hadland (Con, Old Duston) said plans were afoot to knock it down.

But Monday night's full council meeting at the Guildhall heard how the plans to extend St John's were no further forward and those council chiefs were, in fact, looking at the possibility of selling the site.

However, Councillor Sally Beardsworth (Lib Dem, Kingsthorpe) now believes the building could be used to aide the authority's housing crisis.

the opposition councillor said: "As the borough is currently spending £50,000 on temporary accommodation for the homeless, it would be a good idea to use this empty building for homeless families rather than putting them in bed & breakfast accommodation."

The council has already spent £150,000 on the building since buying it, which the Kingsthorpe councillor said could have been used to convert it to temporary

accommodation for "desperate families".

Cabinet papers from 2014 show that buying the site for half-a-million pounds "would offer a number of different opportunities for the council to bring forward positive development to support the town centre."

At the dated looking office block had "some tenants", a council spokesperson told the Chron. It is currently empty.