Report reveals potential future use for dilapidated Desborough factory
Experts looking into the future use of the old Lawrence's site have outlined how they believe it could be transformed.
The factory in Harborough Road has been derelict since it closed in the 1990s, having been bought by Kettering Council in 2004.
Tesco abandoned plans to build a store there in 2014 and the Desborough Community Development Trust (DCDT) won a £10,000 grant to assess options for refurbishing the site as part of a revitalised town centre.
The report has now been completed and its findings will be presented to Kettering Council’s executive committee tomorrow (Wednesday).
It suggests the factory building itself - and not the whole site - could be converted to a small workspace for small businesses, a museum/heritage centre, cafes and shops or a community space for hire.
The report says: “The cost of conversion work could be met by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant and from other charitable sources, borrowing and even from crowdfunding.
“At this time DCDT have not shared any business plan they may have drawn up to indicate how the conversion costs can be met, and whether the projected income is sufficient to manage the premises and repay any loan taken out to bridge a likely gap in funding the capital costs.”
While the factory could be converted, a feasibility study was also carried out to see if the land adjacent to it could be converted into housing.
The report continued: “The main challenge in bringing such a scheme to fruition would be in securing revenue funding for the supported housing complex over the long term.
“In recent months, the Government has reviewed arrangements for funding supported housing and consulted housing providers on their initial proposals.
“As housing providers have generally been critical of the proposals, the Government was looking again at its proposals with a view to publishing fresh proposals in a Green Paper.
“However, with the recent General Election, the timescale for publishing the Green Paper has slipped and we are awaiting details of a new timetable from the Government.
“What is certain, however, is that there needs to be greater clarity about the future arrangements for funding supported housing.
“Until this happens, many housing providers across the country have decided not to proceed with new supported housing developments.
“Similarly, with the Lawrence’s site, the long-term viability of a supported housing scheme will need to be evaluated in the light of the Government’s new funding arrangements before any decision to proceed can be made.”
The Lawrence’s factory originally opened in about 1830 as part of the silk clothing industry.
It converted to shoe manufacturing in the 1860s as silk went out of fashion.