Another setback for Lawrence development site in Desborough

The disused Lawrence factory site.
The disused Lawrence factory site.

The long awaited development of a disused factory site in Desborough has had another set back after Kettering Council can no longer access funds it was banking on.

The 14-year saga of the Lawrence site in Desborough has taken another turn after the council has discovered it is not eligible for a grant from Homes England.

If it had received the grant to build the homes it would have had to pay back an earlier grant which had enabled the local authority to buy the site.

A report to be consider by Kettering Council tomorrow night says: “Homes England have confirmed that the Accelerated Construction Fund (ACF) grant rules would still require us to repay the original site acquisition grant.

“As this was significantly greater in value than the ACF, it clearly makes no sense to proceed with the ACF.

“The ACF also cannot be used to build homes that are retained within the HRA.

“This severely limits the options available to the council.”

The site, off Harborough Road, has been controversial for many years.

In 2008 a bid by Tesco to develop the site was seen off by local campaigners and since then a proposal put together by community group Desborough Community Development Trust has been dismissed by the council.

The borough council sees the site as a key area to provide council homes in the area.

Kettering councillor Mark Rowley, who is the cabinet member with responsibility for housing, said: “This is a setback, yes, but it is not insurmountable.

“The Lawrence site is still a priority and we are keen to move forward with it before the unitary council comes into place as then it could get lost into the jungle of everything else.”

Council officers are recommending to councillors that a feasibility study for the site is carried out before any next steps are taken.