Furore over plans to extend Northampton golf club car park onto ‘battlefield’ site

Delapre Golf Club is hoping to get planning permission to extend its car park.
Delapre Golf Club is hoping to get planning permission to extend its car park.

A bid to extend a golf club car park on land thought to have played host to the Battle of Northampton has sparked more than 100 letters of objection.

In January this year, Delapre Golf Club club in Eagle Drive, was criticised by the Battlefield Trust after it was revealed top soil had been removed on a site next to the premises, to make way for a 32-space car park and golf ball pit.

A snippet from the archeological investigation at the site shows a late medieval brooch and lead shot assemblage was discovered there.

A snippet from the archeological investigation at the site shows a late medieval brooch and lead shot assemblage was discovered there.

The club did not have permission to do so, despite the belief the land in question had played host to the 1460 Battle of Northampton.

The golf club launched a retrospective planning application for the car park and ball pit at the start of August, having completed an archeological survey of the land.

But claims in the planning document “no significant archeological evidence was found” by a trained metal detector have sparked a furore among conservationists, with more than 100 people writing letters to Northampton Borough Council from across the UK, to object to the plans.

Matthew Lewis, of Six Ashes, in Shropshire, said: “This is contrary to the archeological report attached to the application.

“A well preserved French medieval brooch has been found and lead shot, which if dated back to the battle will alter what we know about the use of small calibre hand guns.”

The planning statement in support of the car park, written by GP Planning Ltd, concludes “there is no reason why planning permission should not be granted for the development.”

But among the flurry of letters, which include objections from The Tudor Society and Northampton Battlefields Society, people from Northampton say the plan would destroy historically important land.

“Please stop ruining any heritage Northampton has left,” said Alex Davidson, of Hawthorn Road.

“Too much of our heritage is being lost in the march towards modernisation,” wrote Jenny Copeland, of Woodford Halse.

Graham Bandy, of Spratton, was one of many to draw a parallel with the discovery of King Richard III - under a car park - in Leicester. That site is now the site of a lucrative visitor’s centre, projected to bring in £4.5 million into the local economy in its first year.

He said: “One only has to see the massive fiscal upload in Leicester due to the Richard III exhibitions.

“There is interest in this area if managed correctly. Delapre Abbey could be a centre for this.”

A lead ball found at Eagle Drive and reported in February, is believed to be the oldest surviving cannon ball in England.

The Battle of Northampton was fought between Yorkists and Lancastrians on July 10, 1460, in the area now known as Delapré Park, historians say.