Flats plansfor former Rushden shoe factory

The Grensons site in Rushden
The Grensons site in Rushden
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Plans to convert a former shoe factory which helped shape Rushden’s growth into flats have been submitted.

Westleigh Developments Ltd wants to turn the Grade II listed building on the corner of Upper Queen Street and Cromwell Road in Rushden into 20 one and two-bedroom flats.

The site used to be occupied by Grensons until the firm moved out to new modern premises at Crown Park in the town in 2013.

Grensons was just one of many firms from the footwear industry which played a huge role in Rushden’s growth, with more than 100 boot and shoe factories in the town in the mid-1900s.

There are now only four remaining, but the listed Grenson building has been described as “of special significance as the best expansion of the boot and shoe industry to the towns surrounding Northampton at the end of the 19th century ... and is the most substantial and among the best preserved in Rushden”.

The design and access statement by the developers states: “This application presents a great opportunity to bring back into use this unique historical landmark building.

“The development of this building has been carefully considered in order to once again revive a building that has played such an important role in the development of the locality.

“The scheme enhances the local character by respecting the value of its history and breathing new life into an architecturally significant building.”

The plans include a heritage appraisal historic environment and planning consultant Iain Smith, who says Rushden owes its size to the boot and shoe industry.

The proposed development is centred on the Cromwell Road works, which was the second factory opened by William Green and sons, before they later became Grensons.

Mr Smith’s report says the Cromwell Road works appear to have been the catalyst for a general expansion of Rushden to the east and in summing up his findings after visiting the site last month, he says: “This proposal represents a viable alternative to the long-term deterioration of the building and will give this heritage asset a new long-term future, the harm is less than substantial in this case and is outweighed by the need to conserve the building as a heritage asset and by the provision of housing on a brown field site located in a residential area.”

The plans, which will be considered by East Northamptonshire Council, include demolition of the 20th century extension and north light sheds and conversion of the former shoe factory.

Grensons shoes are now sold all over the world in stores including Saks in the US and Harrods and Harvey Nichols in London.

For more details go to http://www.grenson.co.uk/en_gb/