But Dan’s The Man!

But not this Dan Lister (above) who is a footy player recently moved from Whitley Bay to Whickam. Maybe this Dan Lister (below) a Councillor in Herefordshire (and a little backward in his presentation?).
Or this Dan Lister who is a much respected Barrister!

But of course, we all know that Dan the Man for this blog is the Councillor for Long Buckby near Northampton.

He has been telling the press how wonderful it will be for the Council to own that former Bus Garage now that Church’s (after a brief pause of nearly  ten years) have decided not to do something with their dramatic purchase of the site for expansion.

Historic and iconic frontage? Quite how Dan the Man is going to tie in new housing with the frontage is unclear …

… and even if such were feasible, which frontage?

Trams used a row of arched entrances, now bricked up and hiding two stories of stores/offices behind.

Later, buses used an exit further west …

… presumable added as the town and its fleet expanded.

Despite Dan’s assurances, you would have to think that the whole garage block would bite the dust (make the (dust?) to clear the way for housing.

It would be a sad, but inevitable, loss of a grand but, in 2023, useless building.

Notice the tram tracks of nearly 90 years ago?

Maybe the most effective remembrance would be to keep the tram tracks (and a tram?) in one of the roads of the new development and reuse some of the detail in various properties?

One positive is that everyone is agreed that the 1939 office block …

… MUST be retained in all its art-deco magnificence. The main staircase has had its bannisters removed by a scrap merchant, officially or unofficially fbb knows not.

There is plenty of decoration in good order to allow for full restoration.

It would make a nice ‘Spoons for St James! Or the council could keep a bit of the shed and provide a gorgeous depot and exhibition centre for the Heritage Group’s bus fleet and their recently collected ephemera which could then go back home.

Meanwhile the politics of the purchase looks decidedly dodgy.
The whole Council has not approved the purchase!

West Northamptonshire Council is taking steps to purchase the former St James Bus Depot and ensure the large brownfield vacant site benefits from regeneration to meet the needs of our local community.

Since West Northamptonshire Council was made aware of Church’s Shoes’ intention to sell the site, the Council has been working closely with them. As one of the last remaining brownfield sites in Northampton, it is important for local businesses and the local community to make sure that the best regeneration and economic potential of the area is realised.

WNC has engaged with Church’s to agree on the purchase of the building and is now looking at the future viability of the site through a feasibility study to ensure that any future development meets the needs of our residents and while maintaining the historic character of this landmark.

So the Council may have bought (or be about to buy) a significantly deceased mallard!

But that is not all!

The council has explained why it bought a bus depot for £3.3million without a democratic vote. A decision as big as this would normally go before a cabinet meeting, but this has not. Instead it was green lighted by Conservative councillor Andre Gonzalez de Savage

… chair of the Place Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Quite how one man can decide to spend over £3 million of council taxpayers’ money “under emergency procedures” is yet one more mystery of the democratic process of the UK. (See also Rishi Sunak cancelling a huge chunk of HS2!)

The St James depot site is set to be converted into ‘high-quality’ homes, according to WNC.

So not the high quality social housing that the town needs?

Explaining this decision, a WNC spokesman said the acquisition of the site will ‘enable the regeneration of a large brownfield site within West Northamptonshire’, ‘support the regeneration and economic wellbeing of West Northamptonshire’, and ‘deliver a housing scheme to address the needs of the local community’.

That would be the wealthy Conservative voting community, then, Andre?

Chair of St James’ Residents’ Association, Graham Croucher, has criticised WNC’s handling of the scheme.

Mr Croucher said: “Published a day after the announcement of depot purchase, the leader’s report mentions nothing of preserving the building frontage nor consultation with stakeholders.

“The report thereafter is contradictory within itself and it is not clear what will actually be developed on the site. It would seem none of the figures quite add up yet, with demolition and clean up costs an unknown quantity to add to the overall costs. The fact that scrutiny was unable to be done on the purchase, and therefore the costs, will be of concern to some, given some previous purchase deals.

There is a very large and very empty hole where the Greyfriars bus station once stood!

“Heritage, despite the council’s assertions, seems to be a low priority in favour of as yet an unspecified content of development. The report completely ignores the historical aspect of this site. We urge the council to provide a robust, meaningful consultation with local stakeholders and historical groups. Listen to residents.”

Fat chance!

Maybe there is more to come from this story.
And some heritage memories. Northampton’s Drapery through the transport years!
Of course, fbb never knew the trams!
 Next Bus Publicity blog : Thursday 9th Nov 
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