Northampton Borough Council has bought a former Marks and Spencer building for £1.45m as part of an effort to transform the town centre.
Northampton town centre has seen a reduction in footfall due to the rise of out-of-town and online shopping, a pattern that has been exacerbated by COVID-19.
The former M&S building, which has been empty since 2018, was purchased as part of Northampton Forward’s ongoing Town Centre Masterplan.
Northampton Forward is a public/private partnership created last year to help revive the town centre.
‘We published our masterplan last year outlining steps we will take to transform our town centre into the thriving hub our residents deserve,’ said Cllr Tim Hadland, council cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise and Northampton Forward board member.
‘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.
The council was invited to make an initial application to the Towns Fund on behalf of Northampton Forward to create shovel-ready sites. This money will be used to remediate the M&S site, including the removal of large amounts of asbestos.
Brendan Bruder, Abbeyross Property Consultants managing director and Northampton Forward board member, commented: ‘The site will look to provide modern commercial units on the ground floor replacing the outdated store format that is no longer desirable to retailers, as well as homes above that will increase the vitality of the town centre.’
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