Housing ‘the way forward’ for derelict Desborough factory site

Lawrence Site :Desborough: site for development old Lawrence factory, Harborough Road''Wednesday 26th February 2014 NNL-140226-165509001
Lawrence Site :Desborough: site for development old Lawrence factory, Harborough Road''Wednesday 26th February 2014 NNL-140226-165509001

A 13-year saga to redevelop a derelict Victorian factory in Desborough could be coming to an end as Kettering Council has resolved to build homes on it.

The former Lawrence factory site is owned by Kettering Council which bought it in 2004 after receiving a £2.3m grant from central government.

For the past 13 years the authority has not been able to come up with a development for the area and plans to build a supermarket on the site have failed.

But the wait could be over for Desborough residents as at last night’s cabinet meeting (July 11) the authority resolved to build homes on the site. 

This comes after KBC was told by central government last week that it will receive a grant for a third of the build cost of homes on the site.

Speaking at the meeting Cllr Lloyd Bunday said: “This issue has gone on far too long.

“Too many meetings have been taken up with plans and proposals and where has it got us?

“We owe it to the people of Desborough to give them more than a derelict site.

“There is no time for provocation. We need to get on and do it.”

Cllr Mark Rowley, who is cabinet member responsible for housing, said: “As it is our land we should be building the houses, not giving it to other authorities to build the houses.”

Cllr Mark Dearing backed his fellow cabinet members and said there had been many problems with the site over the years and that ‘housing is the way forward’.

The meeting heard that the 2.5 acre site could not be split into two as previous proposals have suggested. The exact number of homes for the site is yet to be decided.

A plan by charity Desborough Community Development Trust to develop the site with homes and a community hub now looks to have been dismissed.

The charity had hoped Kettering Council would sign over the land to it and then DCDT would have worked with a developer to build the homes.

The profits from the homes would then have been used to create a community hub with a nursery, small retail units and a cafe.

DCDT member John Hodder spoke at the meeting and said their scheme was a way for ‘KBC to offer a long overdue benefit to Desborough’ and asked the council give the charity a beneficial interest in the site to allow them ‘access to the funding they had sought out.’

A report put before the cabinet said there had been new expressions of interest from two supermarkets but councillors decided to rule these out.

A previous plan by Tesco to build a supermarket on the site was abandoned by the chain in 2014.