Looking forward to the year ahead

Published: Wednesday, 16 January 2019

2019 is set to be an exciting year for Northampton Borough Council, with some major projects underway and a packed events calendar.

Work is gathering pace on the renovation and extension of the new Central Museum and Art Gallery in Guildhall Road, after the first phase of works started in September 2018.

Main elements of the project include a triple-height glazed atrium, a 380m² temporary exhibitions gallery, a new shoe gallery showcasing our internationally-important collection, a café with outdoor terrace seating, a selling gallery and a central hall. The project is anticipated to finish in spring 2020, and the £6.7 million cost will be met entirely from the proceeds of the Sekhemka statue sale.

Northampton Museums and Art Gallery also plays host to a regular programme of events at Abington Park Museum, including food fairs, art history lectures, children’s activities and exhibitions. This beautiful Grade I listed manor house was once home to William Shakespeare’s granddaughter, and boasts a new gallery exploring the history of Abington in five themed displays.

This summer, work will also start on the Borough Council’s Vulcan Works project in Fetter Street, following a successful £3.06 million cash injection from the European Regional Development Fund. On completion in autumn 2020, the project will provide a total of 59 lettable units of variable sizes and levels of specification for creative industries, at the heart of the town’s Cultural Quarter.

The project has already benefited from a £6.3 million Local Growth Fund grant, awarded by the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership, and during its first ten years of operation, it is expected to support up to 100 businesses, creating around 300 jobs.

Our Business Incentive Scheme will continue in 2019, helping small, independent businesses to launch and thrive with grants of up to £10,000 to help bring vacant units back into use, extend existing floor space and improve shop fronts. We awarded our 150th grant in September 2018, and the scheme helped to create 55 jobs and leverage more than £331K of private sector investment in 2018 alone.

What's more, we will be extending our local discretionary business rate relief scheme for another year from April, giving further support to small, independent businesses in and around the town.

Review of 2018

2018 was another busy year for the Borough Council, with some great events and major projects along the way. There were some big changes in the town and the county with the opening of Northampton University’s Waterside Campus and the announcement of Local Government Reform in Northamptonshire. There were many other highlights for the Borough Council.

We started the year afresh, with the decision to bring in a new partner, Veolia, to deliver our environmental services contract, as part of our commitment to clean up the town.  Our new environmental enforcement contract with Kingdom also began, with fixed penalty notices issued to tackle littering in the town centre and beyond.

Following a major restoration project, funded by a £3.65 million Lottery grant, a similar sum from the Borough Council, other donations and the work of volunteers, Delapré Abbey opened its doors to the public, revealing 900 years of history.

In May, Northampton town centre was awarded the prestigious Purple Flag status, for providing a vibrant mix of dining, entertainment and culture, while promoting the safety and wellbeing of visitors and residents.

 The following month, District and Borough Councils across the county launched the public consultation on Local Government Reform in Northamptonshire. 

 We had further flags to fly in July, when Delapré Park and Abington Park were named as two of the best green spaces in the UK and Ireland, retaining their Green Flag status.

 At the beginning of September, we coordinated another successful Heritage Open Days weekend. This national event takes place every year, and more than 30 historic venues in and around the town centre open their doors to the public.
 And later in September and October, the horticultural efforts of community groups, businesses and partners came to fruition, with a Gold Award in the East Midlands in Bloom competition and a third place in Britain in Bloom.

One of Northampton’s premier heritage landmarks was awarded a capital grant of up to £200,000 from Northampton Borough Council in November. 78 Derngate, which is the only house in England remodelled by the famous Art Nouveau designer and architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, will utilise the funding to enable expansion of the venue and improve disabled access around the buildings.

Along with these highlights, we delivered our annual programme of events, including the Armed Forces Day Parade on 30 June, which welcomed 20,000 people to the town centre and the Diwali celebrations on 3 November which welcomed over 22,000 people to the town centre.

Our annual free Fireworks Display on the Racecourse was enjoyed by thousands of spectators, and the following weekend, the Remembrance Day Parade, Service and events on 11 November also marked the centenary of Armistice Day, with a special programme of events on the Market Square, organised by our Museums Service. Over 17,000 people went along to show their support.

2018 was brought to a close with our ever popular programme of festive events, including the Christmas Parade, Igloo Cinema and Christmas light switch-on, which attracted 22,600 people into the town centre.

2019 Events calendar

Here’s a selection of the some of the events taking place in our parks and around the Town Centre, organised by both ourselves, partners, community groups and businesses.

Please note that this information is subject to change, and a full list of events and further details can be found on our website. Event details will be added throughout the year: www.northampton.gov.uk/events

26 January  Veganuary Food Fair, Abington Park Museum
28 January  Holocaust Memorial Day event and Civic Ceremony, the Deco
2 March  Love Northampton Spring Food Fair, the Guildhall
25 April – 28 April Kingsthorpe Rec April Fun Fair
 2 May - 19 May  Racecourse May Fun Fair
12 May   Northampton 10K, the Racecourse
26 May - 2 June  Abington Park Fun Fair
31 May - 2 June  Northampton Beer Festival, Beckets Park
8 June   Northampton Carnival, the Racecourse
16 June   Music Festival, Market Square and Town Centre
21 - 23 June  Pretty Muddy/Race for Life, Abington Park
29 June   Armed Forces Day, Market Square and Town Centre
6 - 7 July  Northampton Town Festival, the Racecourse
13 - 14 July  Dragon Boat Races, Midsummer Meadow
28 July   Mela Festival, Beckets Park
22 Aug - 1 September Racecourse August Fair dates
13 - 15 September Heritage Open Days
29 September  Northampton Half Marathon, Town Centre and Delapré Park
19 October  Diwali Festival, Town Centre
28 Oct - 2 November  St Crispin's Street Fair, Town Centre
2 November  Fireworks Display, the Racecourse
10 November  Remembrance Parade, Town Centre
23 November  Christmas Lights Switch-On, Market Square
1 December  Frost Fair and Christmas Parade, Market Square