Northampton’s Future high Streets Fund bid launched

Published: Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Northampton Forward has now submitted its Expression of Interest to the Government’s Future High Streets Fund.

The £620 million fund was announced on Boxing Day, offering individual local authorities to seek up to £25 million toward ambitious town centre schemes.

It comes in response to national decline in town centre fortunes, largely caused by changing shopping habits, and aims to help combat this in Northampton.

Local authorities were invited to outline the challenges in their area and set out a vision for how they will be tackled.

An Expression of Interest sets out the Challenges and ambitions of local areas in order for the Government to make its initial assessment. Those selected will then need to develop full applications in the summer.

In Northampton, a partnership approach has been adopted involving a wide range of public and private sector partners to drive progress, under the Northampton Forward banner.

The expression of interest is the group’s first piece of large-scale activity and there is an aspiration to bid for the maximum £25 million available to each area.

And Northampton’s expression of interest – based on a wealth of existing evidence and proposals from master-planning experts 5plus Architects – is the first substantial piece of work arising from that partnership.

Northampton Borough Council Leader and Chair of the Northampton Forward board, Cllr Jonathan Nunn, said: “This project will showcase our town as a place that is ambitious and proud and needs support through significant change in the physical environment to realise its full potential.

“Northampton has a long tradition of entrepreneurial thinking and business creation and we want to ensure it capitalises on its growing strength as a major creative centre where talent, ideas and enterprise meet.

“The sheer breadth of support for this project is staggering and our fully inclusive approach will ensure that we continue to deliver in line with our bold aspirations.

“Our focus is on transformational change for the long term of which the Future High Streets Fund, if we’re successful, will form one part.

“The ambition for change is infectious across Northampton Forward – we have set the bar high and will continue to deliver against our wider objectives.”

The expression of interest concentrates primarily on improving the area within Northampton’s inner ring road, but also identifies the route into town from the railway station.

Access to the Future High Streets funding would have the potential to unlock new residential and commercial development opportunities, bringing more people into the town.

There would also be a chance to build on Northampton’s rich heritage and cultural offer, which forms part of the evidence for the Expression of Interest.

Martin Mason, Managing Director of Tricker’s shoes in Northampton, said: “Northampton has a history in luxury shoemaking rightly recognised as the very best in the world.

“Tricker’s holds a unique position as the oldest footwear manufacturer in the town. This bold and ambitious plan will regenerate interest in the town and secure a prosperous future for all current and future businesses.”

This funding, coupled with the opportunities presented by Northampton’s position at the centre of the Oxford to Cambridge Arc, would help ensure the town is able to remain competitive.

Particular areas of focus within the Expression of Interest include Market Square, Greyfriars, the eastern section of Abington Street, the route along Marefair and Gold Street, and the area around Fish Street and Dychurch Lane.

Northampton Forward is also in the process of planning further strands of work which will ensure wider stakeholder representation and engagement.