Campaign tries to ensure hall is not demolished

The former Drill Hall in High Street, Wellingborough
The former Drill Hall in High Street, Wellingborough
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Campaigners hope public support will help them save an historic building they say is threatened with demolition.

Councillors in Wellingborough are set to decide whether to grant planning permission for a scheme which would see 109 new homes built between Jackson’s Lane and Oxford Street in the town centre.

The area has been earmarked for development for years, and a public consultation on the latest set of plans ends on Tuesday.

Wellingborough Civic Society has expressed its dismay at the plans, which it says would see the old Drill Hall razed to the ground.

The society has asked English Heritage – which wrote to the council to advise against demolition earlier this year – to have the 1870s hall listed.

The society’s Shena Krupin said campaigners understood the need for more housing but wanted the hall to be integrated within the development.

She added: “We do not want the Drill Hall to be demolished. What we would like is for the developers to use the hall as part of those flats. It’s more expensive to do that, but why spoil our heritage?

“If they demolish the Drill Hall it will ruin that part of the High Street completely.”

She has encouraged any concerned residents to write to their councillors and to sign a petition, which is available at www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-our-drill-hall.

Shaun Fielding, from developers Keepmoat, said Wellingborough Council had asked the firm to look into possible alternative uses for the hall, including a hotel, offices and shops.

He added: “We have worked for three years to investigate uses for the Drill Hall but I am aware that discussions have been ongoing for many years before our involvement.

“Unfortunately there is not a viable way of saving this building.

“Now through the planning process, all interested parties can comment on the whole redevelopment process, which will allow an informed decision to be taken as to whether the retention of what is unfortunately a deteriorating building is a positive aspect for the town centre.”