Council buys former M&S building in Abington Street

Published: Wednesday, 23 September 2020

We have bought the former Marks and Spencer building in Abington Street for £1.45 million as part of Northampton Forward’s ongoing Town Centre Masterplan.

The building has been empty since 2018 since it was vacated by Marks and Spencer, and since then no proposals have been put forward for it.

In common with towns and cities across the country, Northampton town centre has seen a gradual reduction in footfall due to the rise of out-of-town and online shopping.

Coronavirus has amplified this issue and, while there has been a steady recovery since lockdown was eased, many of those who previously worked in the town centre are still required to work from home.

Cllr Tim Hadland, Cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise and Northampton Forward board member, said: “We published our masterplan last year outlining steps we will take to transform our town centre into the thriving hub our residents deserve.

“As part of that, we identified the need for increased town centre living which will support the many businesses that exist and help them to adapt to dramatic changes in the way people shop.

“Coronavirus has accelerated this change and made it even more important that we take action, and the former Marks and Spencer site is a crucial one for us.

“It represents an opportunity to make further headway on our plans for the town centre, which started with the proposal to revamp Market Square, and include a variety of other key sites.

We’ve already submitted a bid for funding to support the Market Square project and we are currently consulting with the public on which potential developments to include in our bid for support from the Government’s Towns Fund.”

The Council, on behalf of Northampton Forward, was invited to make an initial application to the Government’s Towns Fund element to create shovel-ready sites.

This money will be used to remediate the site, including removal of large amounts of asbestos as part of work to get it ready for development.

Brendan Bruder, Abbeyross Property Consultants Managing Director and Northampton Forward board member, said: “We on the board are excited about this acquisition which will enable a new, high-quality development to come forward on Abington Street.

“The site will look to provide modern commercial units on the ground floor replacing the outdated store format that is no longer desirable to retailers, as well as homes above that will increase the vitality of the town centre.”