The Government has awarded Northampton £1 million to help ready the former Marks and Spencer site in Abington Street for development.
Funding will be used to remove asbestos from the site in preparation for demolition, which will make it more attractive to developers.
Northampton Forward – the town’s consortium of public and private sector organisations – was invited to bid for the money through the Government’s Towns Fund initiative.
Last week Northampton Borough Council announced it had bought the M&S site for £1.45 million in order to ensure its future development.
Cllr Tim Hadland, Council Cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise and Northampton Forward Board member, said: “Without this funding, it would be difficult to give this site a new lease of life.
“Shopping habits have changed drastically, and large retail units are now extremely difficult to fill, so it’s vital that we do something different with this key town centre site.
“The outline plan at this stage is for around 190 new, high-quality apartments, with units for independent retail and leisure use on the ground floor.
“Our Town Centre Masterplan sets out increased residential development as an essential part of the strategy to support businesses in the area.
“It stands to reason that more people living in towns leads to greater footfall which can only be good for their vitality.
“We are already working with Northampton Partnership Homes on a development at the former Belgrave House office block in Greyfriars, which is being converted into 124 apartments for key workers.”
Martin Mason, Managing Director of Tricker’s Shoes and Northampton Forward Board member, said: “Retailers in Northampton have been struggling with a shifting landscape that has seen more shoppers turn to e-commerce and to larger out of town retail parks.
“It is to be applauded that this award has been made to begin the long overdue regeneration process for our town centre.
“Development in the town is desperately needed to rebuild a sustainable town centre attractive to residents, visitors and employers.“