Why a big row has erupted over the iconic windows of Harborough's old Enigma nightclub

Planners have ordered the builder to stop working on the windows of the much-loved 123-year-old landmark

Thursday, 26th August 2021, 2:13 pm
A row has blown up after the iconic Victorian windows of the former Enigma nightclub in Market Harborough have been removed as the historic building is turned into new flats.

A row has blown up after the iconic Victorian windows of the former Enigma nightclub in Market Harborough have been removed as the historic building is turned into new flats.

Harborough District Council’s enforcement team has now ordered the builder to stop working on the windows of the much-loved 123-year-old landmark on Coventry Road.

The authority has asked Harborough-based developer Stylish Living to reinstate the original 19th century windows - or put in a new planning application to fit new windows.

The property business is ploughing almost £1 million into turning the building, which dates back to 1898, into “high-end boutique apartments”.

The building is fondly-remembered among many as the old town centre nightclub, Enigma.

The council is acting after launching an urgent investigation into a complaint made by Market Harborough resident Graham Stretton.

“Our planning enforcement team is investigating a complaint regarding new windows at the former Enigma nightclub building in Market Harborough,” the council told the Harborough Mail today.

“As a result, we have asked the developer to cease works on the windows and advised that they reinstate the original windows or submit a planning application for replacement windows.”

Mr Stretton, a senior lecturer in interior architecture at the University of Northampton, told the Mail: “This is not acceptable and it’s unethical.

“The windows were an integral part of this historic listed building.

“I noticed they had been taken out when I was walking along Coventry Road.

“I called the council to complain.

“This situation is not right – and I am also very concerned about the council’s lack of inspection.

“The old windows should be reinstated,” said Mr Stretton, a former chair of Market Harborough Historical Society.

“They are old arts and crafts windows.

“I was appalled to see that they have been removed.

“We need a public campaign to protect this building.

“Buildings like this are a precious part of our heritage and history in Market Harborough,” he said.

“We can’t afford to lose these arts and crafts windows.

“The council has to do its job and make sure that they are properly and fully reinstated.”

Work is now well under way to turn the old Enigma building into two two-bedroom duplex apartments, a one-bedroom duplex apartment and 10 self-contained studio apartments.

The ambitious scheme is being carried out by specialist property firm Stylish Living, based at Gilmorton, near Lutterworth.

They are run by Emma Estill and her partner Dan – and they also have family members working for them full-time.

Dan, who declined to give his surname, told the Mail today: “We needed to take these old windows out.

“We don’t want to upset anyone.

“And if the man who has complained had come to us rather than going straight to the council we’d have been happy to talk to him about what we’re doing.

“The original windows were broken and beyond repair,” said Dan, who used to go to the popular former nightclub himself.

“We are putting in new secure double glazed windows with new openings in a big new upgrade.

“We are not touching the original stone surround, that’s staying.

“Some people don’t understand that we do need to put new double glazing in there now we are turning the building into new flats.

“We are striving to do everything by the book – and we are doing the best we can.

“So for someone to be distressed by this is a bit over the top,” insisted Dan, who said they’ll have pumped almost £1 million into the entire project by the time it’s finished.

“We will now have to apply to the council for planning permission to keep our replacement windows.

“That will take about 16 weeks.

“But we have to do it, the old windows are just not up to scratch for modern living,” insisted Dan, who said they have five or six people working for them on the blueprint.

“We’ll crack on with the rest of the work in the meantime – and we aim to be finished this side of Christmas.

“Market Harborough is crying out for beautiful apartments such as these.

“We are creating affordable living for young people in a multiple occupancy building right in the middle of town.

“This sort of accommodation is gold dust in a town where demand always outstrips supply.

“We are a locally-based property company trying to do our best for Market Harborough and the people here.”

The new apartments will be let to tenants inclusive of bills on a fully-furnished basis.

Talking in April when the initiative was unveiled, Dan’s partnerEmma Estill said the “company’s focus on high-end premium living will bring a completely new offering” to Market Harborough.

“We’re extremely happy to purchase Enigma.

“With the Stylish Living team being local, a number of us have fond memories of the nightclub before it closed its doors in 2015, as do the majority of our build team.

“So it’s a special project for us - and it was really exciting when we got the keys and were able to go back inside,” said Emma, the managing director of Stylish Living.

“The apartments will contain everything you would expect from a boutique hotel, right from the fixtures and fittings to the appliances and soft furnishings.

“For us it’s all about producing somewhere that is really high-end with creative interior design which gives each apartment a unique look and feel.”