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Empty office block to be converted to flats for town centre workers

Belgrave House in Greyfriars is owned by Legal & General which is in discussions with Northampton Borough Council and Northampton Partnership Homes about the conversion.

The move would create much needed housing for those who might otherwise struggle to afford town centre accommodation, while boosting the town centre economy.

It will also modernise and regenerate a large empty building and adjacent alleyway in the town centre, creating two additional floors and improving the external environment.

Cllr Stephen Hibbert, cabinet member for housing, said: “There is extremely high demand for affordable housing in Northampton and this scheme would help meet some of that demand.

“Key workers and other people who work in the town centre and are on low wages often struggle to afford the high rents that are charged for private rented housing, especially in the town centre.

“We would make sure that all of these apartments are made available to those who are on Northampton’s housing register and who are nominated by their employers.”

It is currently proposed that the scheme would create 75 one-bedroom and 45 two-bedroom apartments with rent levels set at 80 per cent of open market rates.

Under the agreement, Legal & General would grant the council a 30- to 35-year rental lease, after which the building would be offered to the council on a long lease for just £1.

The council would be able to use Right to Buy receipts – funds from the sale of council housing stock – and could possibly access government funding from Homes England.

Northampton Partnership Homes, the council’s arms-length housing management organisation, has already carried out comprehensive feasibility work and would act as development agent.

It will submit a planning application to the council in due course and would manage the scheme on behalf of the Council once complete. Resident parking could be provided on the top floor of the neighbouring Grosvenor Centre.

Cllr Brandon Eldred, cabinet member for finance, said: “We have worked hard to ensure the funds can be made available for this material acquisition.

“Not only does it offer the opportunity to invest in homes, it also provides us with an opportunity to invest and improve that area of the town centre and its regeneration.”

Construction would be expected to start at the beginning of next year, completing around a year later, with the first tenants moving in by spring 2021.

Helen Town, assistant director of asset management and development for, NPH said: “Affordable housing for those who provide essential services to the people of Northampton is something both the council and NPH have been looking to address for some time.

“We were particularly keen to find a town centre location to make an impact on the local economy.

“We love our town and are really excited about the opportunities this scheme offers the people who work hard to keep it safe, healthy and vibrant, who may otherwise struggle to afford market rents.” 

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