Final phase begins on controversial re-opening of Abington Street in Northampton to traffic

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The final phase of work on the depedestrianised section of Abington Street begins next week but claims it has been “a real success for the town” have been disputed.

Planters and new seating will be installed on the controversial £6 million scheme which first opened to the public before Christmas.

Councillor Tim Hadland, Northampton Borough Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and planning, the move to bring back traffic to that area of the town had been a success.

“Reopening Abington Street has been a real success for our town. We have listened to businesses and helped breathe new life into a part of the town centre that had been in decline.

“Every day sees more cars taking advantage of the free parking or using the dropping off bays, bringing more shoppers and encouraging businesses to open in empty units. This is good for the town centre and for all of us.

“There is still more to do, and we are continuing to work with and support our town centre businesses, but creating the right atmosphere and environment has been a real shot in the arm for the area.”

Leader of the Labour group on the council, Councillor Danielle Stone, did not agree.

“I can’t see there has been any advantage in re-opening Abington Street. It was an extremely costly and wasteful exercise that has produced no benefit. It just hasn’t happened.”

Councillor Stone said she was particularly frustrated by the way in which the road was dug up.

“They dug up a perfectly good surface that should have been recycled. Instead it was all broken up to be used for infilling.

“It seems to me they made it up as they went along. I think they realised that after it was put in that it was dangerous [and then put safety barriers in place]. It was extremely bad planning.”

Work begins on the second phase on Monday. The installation will take place over a number of evenings, and will see the road closed between 6pm to 11pm every weekday.