Vulcan Works Leather craft centre to get go-ahead
Plans to create a Northampton crafts centre dedicated to leatherwork are expected to get the go ahead from councillors next week.
The University of Northampton’s “centre of excellence” in the town’s cultural quarter in the £13 million Vulcan Works development, will house an Institute for Creative Leather Technologies, a Leather Conservation Centre and a leathercraft exhibition space. The university will also run the neighbouring cultural hub for creative industries.
Northampton City Council Cabinet member for regeneration, Councillor Tim Hadland, said: “This is an ambitious plan that will place Northampton at the forefront of leatherworking technology. We are already renowned for the quality of our shoe production, with the world’s largest cluster of prestige footwear firms within a ten-mile radius. It makes sense for us to capitalise on that position, cementing Northampton’s place as a global powerhouse for leathercraft.”
The university’s new leathercraft centre will cost £5 million, with £2 million coming direct from the university, which will also manage the cultural hub for creative businesses, though this will remain in the council’s ownership. The 49 flexible units in the hub are expected to create up to 300 jobs over 10 years within creative professions such as advertising, architecture, design, arts and crafts and software design services.
The Grade II listed Vulcan Works, a former ironworks, will be restored while outbuildings will be demolished to allow the new structure to be built.
Terry Neville, Chief Operating Officer at the University of Northampton, said: ““The Vulcan Works will be a place to celebrate the University and Northampton’s rich history of leather craft. Its planned location in the centre of town is part of a bigger campaign to raise the heritage profile of the county of Northamptonshire – not just nationally, but around the world.”
The redevelopment has been partly funded by the Local Growth Fund grant, administered by South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP).