The first high-rise apartment block in Corby is being created on a site in the shadow of the town’s steelworks.
The eight-storey clad block will be the centrepiece of a development called Deer Park that will stand on the site of the former administrative heart of the steelworks.
It will become the highest residential building in Corby.
MPB Structures, on behalf of Glenrowan Homes, have begun converting the former Tata administrative block into flats, as well as another three-storey block which stands opposite. The firm was told by Corby Council in 2016 that the conversions do not need planning permission. There will be a total of 103 flats across these two buildings.
They are also planning to build another 29-flat block and a convenience store to stand between the two existing buildings as well as 134 two, three and four-bed houses in a crescent on the remainder of the land. An application for the new-build part of the scheme is due to be submitted to Corby Council planners next week.
Standing just a few yards from the existing steelworks mills, the site will be accessed by the former Tata Gate 1, off Weldon Road. Corby works, manufactures 250,000 tonnes thin-wall welded tube from steel strip each year.
The eight-storey building will be renamed Rosac House in memory of all those who were part of the Retention of Steelmaking At Corby group that fought against the closure of the steelworks in 1979.
Architect David Turnock said: “It is a trailblazing scheme.
“These are not executive homes. They are starter homes and small family homes. They will be affordable and some of them will be given over to a housing association.
“We also know there’s quite a demand for small bungalows in Corby.
“It’s definitely walkable and cycleable to the town centre.”
The developers say they will deal with arsenic and mercury contamination that was discovered during their initial surveys on the 6.5 hectare piece of land - about the size of six-and-a-half full size rugby pitches - and that clean-up has been costed into their plans.
Asbestos in the former office blocks has been removed and homes closest to the steelworks on the east of the site will have systems that allow air to circulate while keeping windows closed to mitigate noise.
There will be a linear wildlife haven on the former railway line and a path to crucible road so residents can access Asda and the Peel Centre.
Agent David Shaw said: “We want to try and create a place here, with central amenities including green space, a pond and a shop.
“We have started working on the main building already. There was asbestos which we have removed and the building will be re-clad.”
Mr Shaw acknowledged that the site had serious noise constraints. He said: “We’re having a full noise assessment undertaken and we can put in mechanical ventilation so those homes closest to the works can leave their windows closed if they want to.
“We know Tata will have concerns but when you are regenerating somewhere you always have that issue.
“We have been doing some work in Peterborough and we now have homes next to nightclubs.
“In London there are homes next to industrial areas. It’s a different way of living.
“Everyone here will know exactly what they’re moving into. We think these things can be built next to each other.”
Some of Corby’s very first homes in Stephenson Way were built within a few metres of the original steelworks.
MPB Structures have worked on many large civil engineering projects including Media City in Manchester, Birmingham’s New Street Station and Batteresa Power Station. The homes will be sold through subsidiary Glenrowan Homes. Both companies are owned by entrepreneur Michael Boyle. The offices of both companies are in Crucible Road, Corby.
Ward councillor Kevin Watt said he thinks that the plans have potential. He said: “Some of the housing next to the road and works will have extra glazing.
“We need housing in Corby and that housing has to be affrodable and because this seems to be am affordable project, that’s got to be a good thing.
“It would be disappointing to see it swallowed up by buy-to-let because there does seem to be a trend at the moment in Corby for houses to be bought-up to become HMOs.”
The UK definition of high rise is generally accepted to be a building of more than seven storeys or 23m in height with the number of storeys meaning occupants need to use a lift to reach their destination. It also includes buildings of a height beyond the reach of available fire-fighting equipment and those buildings where height can have a serious impact on evacuation.