Will decaying St Edmund’s Hospital ever be developed? Northampton residents fear not...

St Edmund's Hospital on Wellingborough Road has been empty since 1998.
St Edmund's Hospital on Wellingborough Road has been empty since 1998.

Hope that a derelict hospital in Northampton would be turned into a retirement village looks to be fading fast after more than six months of inactivity.

Residents living near St Edmund’s Hospital on Wellingborough Road have seen the site gradually fall into ruin over the 18 years since it closed. Now the building, part of which is Grade II listed, is a target for squatting, drug use, vandalism and rats.

A year ago there looked to be hope as the Cypriot based owners Kayalef Holdings lodged plans to create a retirement village of 130 care apartments and a 62-bed specialist care home on the site.

In June 2015 they were approved - providing the developers submitted a document justifying its plans to demolish the Grade II listed former school house and nurses’ home.

Despite hopes this would be a mere formality, the document has never surfaced.

Now Castle ward Councillor Danielle Stone (Lab, Castle) believes the borough council needs to use its powers to buy the site off Kayalef Holdings and develop it themselves.

She said: “This company isn’t serious.

“They seem to have no intention of developing the land, it’s time to call it a day.”

Local residents’ associations have been campaigning to get St Edmund’s developed for the best part of a decade, but have been repeatedly hit by disappointment.

St Edmund’s Residents’ Association secretary Jim Wishart, who lives around 200 yards from the abandoned hospital, said: “It is beyond a joke now. It was the end of last century when the hospital closed and back then it was left in quite a good condition.”

Mr Wishart also believes there is a strong case for the borough council to buy the land using compulsory purchase powers.

He said: “I think it would be of real benefit for he town.

“The council can’t say they don’t have the money to do it. If that’s the case how can they spend £3 million on Abington Street to basically change the colour of the paving? They are about to do the same with St Giles too.

Kayalef Holdings has been contacted for a comment, and it is understood the firm is set to make an announcement in the next few days.

In June last year a spokesman for the firm said; “We will continue our discussions with Northampton Borough Council to consider the viability of the plans as it is in no one’s interest for the site to stay in its current state longer that is necessary.

“Nobody wants a failed planning application. This is why we are committed to a robust, rigorous and ultimately successful approach which will see St Edmund’s serving Northampton for many years to come.”

Kayalef Holdings bought the site from Rochmills in 2012. The latter company claimed it never brought forward a similar development because it was “frustrated by constant delays from the council’s heritage department.”

Northampton Borough Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, Councillor Tim Hadland said: “We continue to work with the developer and are pressing them regarding outstanding planning issues.

“Compulsory purchase is not an ideal option, particularly with a site like this, as it can be a very lengthy and expensive process for the council. The implementation of the site owner’s redevelopment plans is the best way to resolve the future of this important site for everybody.

“There are other potential enforcement actions that we will use, if necessary, before embarking along the CPO route.”