The public has its say on Northampton town centre regeneration plans

Published: Thursday, 15 August 2019

Some headline results are in from the consultation on concepts for Northampton Town Centre regeneration published by Northampton Forward in May.

A concept proposal was produced by town centre master-planning experts 5plus architects outlining five opportunity areas:

  • Marefair and Gold Street
  • Market Square
  • Greyfriars
  • Fish Street and St Giles Street
  • Abington Street (Eastgate)

Northampton Forward launched a heavily publicised series of consultation events at the Grosvenor Centre and University of Northampton, and a questionnaire in May.

The events attracted more than 1,000 people and a total of 742 people gave detailed written responses to the questionnaire.

While the results are still being analysed, we can now reveal some of the headlines from the consultation, which will help shape the detailed masterplan for the town.

Those filling in the questionnaire were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the changes suggested for a variety of areas across the town, or if they were unsure.

And the response was largely positive with those agreeing significantly outweighing those who disagreed in every case:

  • Abington Street – 55.35 per cent for and 9.75 per cent against
  • Drapery –48.12 per cent for and 10.94 per cent against
  • Marefair and Gold Street – 53.31 per cent for and 6.21 per cent against
  • Fish Street and St Giles Street – 63.92 per cent for and 6.19 per cent against

Responses for Market Square offered slightly more mixed views (49.53 per cent for and 23.83 per cent against) and Greyfriars (48.5 per cent for and 22.66 per cent against), though the public offered suggestions for these areas and there was still a clear consensus for the vision based on their responses.

Cllr Jonathan Nunn, Northampton Borough Council Leader and chair of the Northampton Forward board, said: “It’s really good to see how many people gave up significant amounts of time to offer their thoughts – because of the very detailed written responses they made, the average time spent responding was over 40 minutes.

“Responses were positive around the changes that have been proposed within the masterplan, with particularly strong support for more residential provision within the town centre and encouraging more independent shops and other businesses.

"That said, a good number of people still clearly feel our current bus station offering needs to be further improved.

“We’re factoring all of these comments into our thinking around the detailed masterplan, while not losing sight of the majority of those who favoured the outline proposals we put forward.

“As we said at the outset, our town centre plans will only succeed if they reflect the wishes of Northampton’s residents, and that’s absolutely what we’re determined to make sure they do.”

Respondents to the questionnaire were also asked a series of questions about what they would like to see in the town centre.

More than 82 per cent felt food and leisure uses should be encouraged in the town centre, many supported additional residential use – particularly in Abington Street –and a large proportion favoured more bars, restaurants and retail in Market Square.

“The responses show that a reasonable number of people are uncertain about the proposals and haven’t felt able to say they’re either for them or against them,” said Cllr Nunn.

“They clearly remain to be convinced, so all we can do is factor the comments we’ve received into a more detailed masterplan and see how that is received.”

Detailed responses are still being collated and a document outlining the results will be published in due course.

Laura Graham, Chair of LiftNN, which includes representation from Voluntary Impact Northamptonshire, NHFT, GP Alliance and Northants Community Foundation, said “We are still at the start of a long journey towards a Northampton town centre that reflects the changing needs and wants of its community.

“I’m pleased that the people who engaged with the consultation have responded positively to the proposals and offered exciting ideas of their own.

"I’m looking forward to seeing the detailed responses from the public and ensuring they are reflected in the next stage of the regeneration planning.”