University withdraws from Vulcan Works project, forcing Northampton Borough Council to seek funding for new scheme

Former Vulcan Works in Guildhall Rd. (Picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Former Vulcan Works in Guildhall Rd. (Picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

The University of Northampton’s plan to create a leatherworking hub in Vulcan Works has fallen through.

A creative leather technology and leather conservation centre had been planned but issues around the project's "financial risk and with phasing" have meant the university has had to look elsewhere.

As a result, Northampton Borough Council is now seeking further European funding to provide more managed workspace than initially envisaged.

The council hopes to provide a workspace for creative businesses to start up and grow, which it hopes might interest university graduates.

Cllr Tim Hadland, cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and planning, said: “While it is a shame that the leatherworking hub can no longer be a part of the scheme, we continue to work toward the University having a presence within it.

“As a result, though, we now have the possibility of creating more business units than we originally envisaged with only slight changes to the design.

“Of course, we will have to wait and see if our application for further funding is approved, which will take several months, but we are confident.

“In the meantime, we will be taking another look at the business model to ensure that, if we are able to proceed, it offers the very best return for the taxpayer.”

Northampton Borough Council's cabinet is set to discuss the future of the Vulcan Works project, first envisaged in 2014, during its meeting on Wednesday, December 6.

A funding application has been made to the European Structural Investment Fund with the help of specialists Amion Consulting.

If this is approved, cabinet should be in a position to consider a further proposal by October 2018.