Wednesday, September 25, 2019

No affordable housing for Far Cotton

I was taken with Far Cotton, a suburb of Northampton built in the 19th century to house railway workers.

It had a dominant Victorian church and a scatter of shops that were somehow still hanging on .

Among the buildings I photographed that day were its former cinema and the American diner next door.

Cinema Treasures tells us all about them:
The Tivoli Cinema opened on 13th July 1935 with Victoria Hopper and John Loder starring in “Lorna Doone”. It was located in the Far Cotton suburb, south of the city of Northampton and was situated on Towcester Road opposite St. Leonards Road. 
Operated as an independent it was taken over in 1939 by A. Cohen’s Mayfair Cinemas (Control) and then in 1947 it was operated by the independent Midlands Super Cinemas circuit. 
By the late-1950’s it was screening ‘Continental’ art house films.
Hmm. I wonder if that is a euphemism?

It closed on 27th August 1960 with John Garfield and Jennifer Jones in “We Were Strangers” and Philip Carey in “Return to Warbow”. 
It went into use as a furniture warehouse, then in the 1980’s was converted into a tyre and motor repair depot. There was talk about it being re-opened, but nothing came of it. After laying empty for several years it re-opened in October 2005 as a tile warehouse serving the needs of D.I.Y. hardware people. By 2011, it was in use as a sofa store. The adjacent shop and cafe now function as a diner with an ‘American’ car on the roof.
But time moves on and developers applied to Northampton Borough Council for planning permission to build 40 new homes on the site, a third of them to be 'affordable.

Later came news that those developers were asking for the affordable element to be removed from the scheme.

And, reports the Northampton Chronicle & Echo, they have got their way 'as the scheme would still help contribute towards the council’s housing targets'.

The paper quotes one councillor:
“I’m extremely disappointed that this has come back and that they didn’t do their homework. There was great objection from the public, but we went with the developer because of the affordable housing being offered. On the flip side, the applicant would appeal if we rejected this and would probably win. We are having to make a decision with one hand tied behind our back.”
Something to remember the next time you hear it argued that developers are hampered by current planning laws.


nigel hunter said...

The planning laws must be tightened up to ensure that there HAS to be 25% SOCIAL housing built. 80% 'affordable' is far too high a figure.

Frank Little said...

> I wonder if that is a euphemism?
Probably not. It was a time when several cinema entrepreneurs sought to bring art to the masses. Leslie Blond on Merseyside was one such. (