Early work has started on the redevelopment of the new Barwell Stand at Franklin’s Gardens, home of Northampton Saints.
Further preparations will take place during the summer ahead of the major building work in summer 2015. Planning permission has been approved and the funding is in place for the stand, which will increase capacity to 15,500.
A spokesman for Northampton Saints said: “Although the builders themselves will not move onto the site for another 12 months, Franklin’s Gardens has been home to several contractors over the past few days.
“The two trees at the Sturtridge Pavilion end of the ground have been removed – replaced with two new trees, one in the Weedon Road car park and a second on the adjacent housing development on the former Express Lifts factory site – creating space for the stadium’s electricity sub-station and emergency generator to be moved in early August.
“Meanwhile soil samples have been taken from the northern end of the stadium site to reduce any element of potential surprise when the foundations are dug next summer and enable contractors to quote accurately when the build is put out to tender.
“The Barwell Stand is the most complicated project that the Saints will have undertaken in the overall development of Franklin’s Gardens. This process began in 2001 with the building of the Tetley’s and Burrda Sport Stands, followed by the Church’s Stand in 2002 and an extension to the Burrda Sport Stand in 2005,” he added.
Saints chairman Tony Hewitt said it was vital to ensure that the development process is approached methodically, both to keep the building work on time next summer and to ensure that the Barwell Stand is a long-term success story in the 130-year history of Franklin’s Gardens.
“The Barwell Stand is an integral part of our ambitions to continue a long-term legacy that will serve Northampton Saints well in the future,” he said.
“We have to get everything right first time, which means taking our time in putting the project development plans together to ensure that the build itself runs as smoothly as possible.
“The Barwell Stand is the most complicated project of the five developments that we have done over the past decade, with its own specific issues such as the electricity sub-station, access to the site and the simple fact that we are replacing a building which has itself been extended a number of times over the past 50 years.
“We are investing more than £5 million into this expansion of Franklin’s Gardens, and we need to ensure that it is money spent wisely to underpin our core values of sustainability and success.”
The stand will include new hospitality suite and executive boxes, as well as new stadium management facilities and a large ground floor public bar.