Council 'considering proposals' for Desborough eyesore - but will it be sold for retail use?

They decided to sell the site, which has been derelict since the 1990s, earlier this year
The overgrown Lawrence factory site. Picture: Andrew CarpenterThe overgrown Lawrence factory site. Picture: Andrew Carpenter
The overgrown Lawrence factory site. Picture: Andrew Carpenter

A council is considering a ‘number of proposals’ for a derelict Desborough eyesore amid fresh calls for it to become a retail site.

The former Lawrence’s factory in Gladstone Street has been empty since the 1990s and was put up for sale by North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) in the summer.

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They said it was surplus to requirements, putting an end to a controversial £9.5m scheme to build 40 council houses there, with the site being marketed for £1.25m.

There has been a lot of interest and a number of offers which NNC are now looking at – but no details about proposed site uses have been made public.

Cllr Matt Binley (Con), NNC’s executive member for highways, travel and assets, said: “The council has identified the former Lawrence’s factory site in Desborough as surplus to requirements and is now marketing the site.

“This process is ongoing and the council is considering a number of proposals – though it is not possible to comment further on these at this stage.

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“We will give updates on the proposals and timescales as soon as we are in a position to do so.”

The now-defunct Kettering Borough Council bought the site in 2005 and supermarket giant Tesco was given permission to build a store there before the scheme collapsed in 2014.

Proposals to build social housing were paused when Aldi expressed an interest in the site but were back on when the retailer’s proposal failed to materialise, only for NNC to then decide not to proceed and to sell up instead.

It’s understood that any proposed developer would likely have to demolish the shell of the factory to make it viable. The site was previously branded a “jungle” and “death trap” with teenagers risking their lives by venturing into the buildings.

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Cllr Andy Coleman (Lab), from Desborough Town Council (DTC), wants the site to be used for retail purposes.

He said: "This is a fantastic opportunity to bring fresh life and hope into our town centre and help existing retailers.

"Desborough residents have already made it clear they want a retailer on the site and the town council has been very vocal and done its best to achieve the best outcome for the site that has been an eyesore for far too long.

"We don't have the infrastructure for more houses or a nursing home on the site whereas a retailer would offer local jobs and attract investment.”

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DTC chairman Cllr Tim Healy (Lab) said: "We hope NNC consults fully with the community before making a final decision.

"DTC has opposed the previous NNC scheme.

"We are hoping the final scheme adopted by NNC will include facilities which the community needs."