A block of derelict shops has been bought by Wellingborough Council after the authority used compulsory purchase powers in a bid to end antisocial behaviour on the site.
The shops at 66-74 Lea Way have been plagued by trouble for years and, after a lengthy process to acquire them, the council was finally able to take possession last week. The site is now being secured ready to market it for development.
The Lea Way site used to house a mini supermarket and several other smaller shops, but has stood empty for more than seven years. It quickly became an eyesore and a hotspot for antisocial behaviour, causing misery to nearby residents. The council received numerous complaints about the site and, after several attempts to negotiate with the owner failed, agreed to use compulsory purchase powers to buy it so improvements could be made.
The landowner objected to the compulsory purchase order, which meant a public inquiry was held in October last year. The council's property team continued to negotiate with the owner and on the second day of the inquiry an agreement was reached. The inquiry was closed and the purchase went ahead.
Since taking possession of the shops last week, the council has been working on securing the site by putting up fencing, taking away rubbish, and clearing out the buildings. The next step will be to market it, probably for residential use.
Cllr Lora Lawman, ward councillor for the area, said: "This is great news and will really make a difference to those living nearby. The empty, vandalised shops have been an eyesore and trouble hotspot for many years and the subject of a great deal of complaints. The council tried time and time again to negotiate with the landowner, but he never progressed any of the proposals or opportunities offered to him, leaving us with no choice but to step in and use compulsory purchase powers. Whoever develops the site now has a great opportunity to bring forward something much more suitable that will really enhance the area and improve the quality of life for residents."