Wellingborough ‘eyesore’ bought by council so it can be demolished and brought back into use

31-32 Church Street in Wellingborough
31-32 Church Street in Wellingborough

Wellingborough Council has bought a dilapidated town centre restaurant so the unsafe building can be demolished.

The property at 31-32 Church Street has been in need of repair for a decade and is pinned in place with scaffolding to stop it falling into the street.

This building has been a problem for a number of years

Cllr Jon-Paul Carr

It has been the cause of complaints for a number of years.

As the building was privately owned, the council was unable to do anything other than carry out its legal duty to make sure it was safe.

Now the council owns the building, it can make plans to demolish it and find a new use for the site.

The building was previously used as an Indian restaurant.

Problems first started when the owner put in display windows and took out the bulk of the front wall. The building then deteriorated rapidly and in 2006 the council’s building control team inspected it and recorded it as a dangerous structure which posed an immediate risk to public safety.

The council carried out works to make the building safe, including arranging for scaffolding to hold the wall back.

Since then, council officers have been in regular contact with the owner to ask him to resolve the situation, but without success.

Last year a charge of nearly £44,000 was placed on the property on the land registry title, to cover the costs incurred by the council for the works to stabilise and inspect the building.

The current internal scaffolding was confirmed by a structural engineer as sufficient to keep the building stable and prevent it falling into the road, but complaints have been repeatedly received about the state of the property and calls made for something to be done.

Councillors agreed back in February that action should be taken to acquire the building, whether by transfer, agreement, or compulsory purchase.

The council has now purchased the property by agreement and all money owed has been recovered.

Cllr Jon-Paul Carr, chairman of the council’s services committee, said: “This building has been a problem for a number of years.

“While it was privately owned we were legally allowed to make it safe, but we couldn’t do any more than that.

“It reached a point where it became obvious the owner wasn’t going to resolve the issues and we believed the property would only deteriorate more.

“It is also a huge eyesore in a town centre location.

“We made the decision to acquire the building so we could sort out the situation, protect public safety, and make that area of town much more appealing.

“Now that the building is under our ownership, we can begin to look at plans to demolish it and find a new use for the site.”

The purchase price of the property was £71,000, less the £43,924.52 land registry charge, meaning a payment of £27,075.48 was made to the owner.

The cost was taken from the council’s capital budget, which is money that can’t by law be used for running council services and is put aside for larger scale projects that benefit the community and provide investment opportunities.