More than 100 dignitaries and business leaders gathered for second phase launch of the Northampton Alive project this morning (Thursday).
Millions of pounds worth of projects aimed at boosting the culture and economy of Northampton were given their first full public airing at an event in the Great Hall of the Guildhall.
Project leaders for the developments - from a 50,000 square ft office space at St Peter’s Waterside - to moves to create the Boot and Shoe Quarter in the Mounts area of the town - gave speeches to outline their plans.
In his opening address Northampton North MP Brian Binley, said: “In 2010 I was knocking on doors and people were telling me that Northampton was dead and finished.
“We are now proving to the world that Northampton is alive and very worthy of support from the national scene.”
Plans announced today included moves to renovate Guildhall Road, a £5m plan to open the Vulcan Iron Works up to creative industry, a fund to help town centre businesses develop and a bid to refurbish Abington Park Museum.
Other schemes announced proposed ways of rebranding Northampton in terms of its cultural heritage.
One such scheme will see the town’s former east and north ‘gates’, once part of the Northampton’s medieval-built town wall, recognised by information boards and signposts.
Leading the project, John Shienman, whose opticians sits near to where the large eastern entrance to the town would have been, said: “At the moment Northampton is one dimensional - it is no longer the focus of the county - clearly now we need to add dimensions.
“For far too long that area of town has been known as just ‘the top of Abington Street’.
“What would be better than a restoration of the historic name Eastgate - to embrace that whole area.”
And speaking on designating the Mounts area of town the ‘Boot and Shoe Quarter’ - owner of the Garibaldi pub on Bailiff Street, said he hoped the moves would one day see that part of town as bustling as Manchester’s Northern Quarter.
He said: “We can promote this as a destination within which to live, work and socialise - for pop-up events, street food, urban art installations.
“It feels like an exciting time here.”