Efforts to breathe new life into the abandoned Feathers pub in Rushden, Northamptonshire, have hit a roadblock as North Northants Council (NNC) rejected plans by Briggs & Hulland Ltd to transform the site into flats, shops, and offices. Despite standing vacant for several years, the proposed redevelopment of the former Feathers pub at 105 High Street faced denial from NNC planning officers, citing concerns about the design’s lack of harmony with the existing High Street architecture.
The developers had applied to demolish the old pub, making way for a three-storey building with an additional two-storey block at the rear. The envisioned structure included two retail units, two offices, and 10 apartments, accompanied by 16 parking spaces. However, NNC found fault with the development’s design, deeming it “unsympathetic and eclectic” in relation to the surrounding area.
In January 2018, the Feathers pub closed its doors, and shortly thereafter, a fire erupted, causing extensive damage to the property. The venue was later transformed into ‘Fate,’ a late-night bar and club.
The destructive fire left the building in ruins, with the roof and interior destroyed. Presently, the site is inaccessible, surrounded by fencing and supported by scaffolding.
Planning documents for the redevelopment emphasized the opportunity to replace the deteriorating structure with a more contemporary version, highlighting the positive impact on the surrounding area. The developers argued that bringing the building back into use would enhance the town centre’s community and bring economic and social benefits. The proposed mixed-use development aimed to contribute to the vitality of the High Street, with retail spaces on the ground floor and residential units above, aligning with the neighbourhood plan.
However, objections to the project were raised by Rushden Town Council, expressing concerns about the development’s visual impact on High Street views, a perceived lack of amenity space for residents, and inconsistencies within the planning documents. Members of the public also voiced discontent, advocating for a hospitality-focused venture that could attract people to the town. One objection argued, “Rushden High Street needs another public house and some new restaurants to draw people in during the day and at night.”
Interestingly, a previous proposal to convert the Feathers pub into a restaurant and bar, with eight residential flats at the rear, received approval in August 2020. Despite the green light, the envisioned establishment failed to materialize, and the planning permission has since lapsed.
With the recent rejection of the application, the future of the derelict Feathers pub remains uncertain. No alternative plans are currently in place, leaving the community in the dark about when this historic venue might once again serve as a vibrant hub for the town. Local sentiments echo a yearning for a revitalized Feathers, but the discord between proposed developments and community desires adds another layer of complexity to the ongoing saga of the Rushden landmark.