Supermarkets ‘interested’ in Desborough 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

Two supermarkets have expressed an interest in taking on a site in Desborough four years after Tesco controversially pulled out of doing so.

The retail giant axed plans to build on the Lawrence’s factory site in 2014 after being granted planning permission two years earlier rather than Sainsbury’s.

The site has been vacant since it closed in the 1990s, having been bought by Kettering Council in 2004.

But an update set to be discussed by the council says two supermarkets - who have not been named - have expressed an interest in the site in the past six months.

Both say they can address a covenant preventing the sale of items including groceries and alcohol ‘satisfactorily’.

Two housing associations have also expressed an interest as well as a private developer who gave no detail of their intentions.

Last year Kettering Council’s executive committee agreed to begin discussions with the Desborough Community Development Trust (DCDT) about transferring the factory building on a long-term lease at a nominal rent, provided that they converted and managed the building and independently raised the necessary funds to do so.

The factory would have become a ‘community hub’ type resource and the rest of the site would have been developed separately for specialist housing provision under the proposal.

However, DCDT has since confirmed that the development of the factory alone was not a viable option and has put in their own proposal to Kettering Council for the whole site, which would cost almost £6m.

A report set to be discussed by Kettering Council’s executive committee tomorrow (Wednesday) said: “In that proposal, DCDT are seeking to take a long-term lease from Kettering Council at a peppercorn rent for the whole site.

“They would then work with a developer to develop the site for a 100 per cent rented housing scheme, managed by a housing association, retaining the factory for future development.

“It’s planned that would provide small retail units, community space, nursery, business units and a small café, along with the necessary parking.

“The initial estimated costs for the housing development only are around £3.2m.
“The proposal states that the developer would then transfer the development profit to DCDT as a contribution towards refurbishment of the factory building, for which they would seek further external funding.

“DCDT’s original options appraisal study undertaken in February 2017 for the conversion of the factory indicated a capital investment requirement of around £2.6m.”

Councillors at the meeting, which starts at 6.30pm at the council offices, have been asked to confirm their preferences for development of the site.

It’s hoped that any scheme could be delivered within the next two years.

The now-dilapidated 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.