Work could start on landmark innovation centre in Northampton next summer

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WORK to build a landmark ‘innovation centre’ opposite Northampton’s railway station could start as soon as next summer.

Plans for the building, which will contain up to 60 units for small businesses, were first revealed in November last year.

The centre, which is being planned by The University of Northampton and the West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (WNDC), would focus on high performance computing and business services, with the hope that it could bring new jobs and investment to the town.

During a meeting of the WNDC’s board this week, the organisation’s director of regeneration, Chris Garden, said: “We’re well advanced with the plans for the innovation centre.

“I hope we’ll submit a planning application towards the end of October.”

It is hoped work to build the centre could then start as soon as summer next year and be completed in 14 to 16 months.

The centre would stand on the site of the former United Social Club in Green Street, which was demolished last year.

The site, which is opposite Northampton’s railway station, is now part of the Waterside Enterprise Zone, which was identified as a high-tech expansion area by the Government in August.

Reflecting on how the development of the innovation centre could help kick-start the enterprise zone, the chairman of the WNDC, John Markham, said: “We very much welcome the creation of the enterprise zone. It’s a tremendous catalyst for the regeneration of Northampton.

“Let’s hope the interest that’s already been shown in the area will be followed through and we get a lot of people coming into that area and bringing jobs and providing employment, because that’s what this is all about.”

The WNDC is expected to approve funding for the creation of the innovation centre in November. The university’s governing body will also consider plans for the scheme in November.

Aside from the innovation centre, officials are also pushing to bring new companies to the wider enterprise zone, which has a focus on high performance engineering. It is known that approaches have already been made to both the Virgin and Lotus Formula 1 teams, who have expressed an interested in moving to Northamptonshire.