Town houses planned for Northampton Castle House site look like 'Disneyland' says heritage group

Northamptonshire County Council's plans for the former Castle House site in Marefair have been described as "faux-Disney" by a local preservation group.
Northamptonshire County Council's plans for the former Castle House site in Marefair have been described as "faux-Disney" by a local preservation group.

Plans to put a town houses on a site once earmarked for a heritage park will look like some "faux Disney" version of a 17th-century Northampton that never existed, according to a local preservation group.

Though Northamptonshire County Council promised to create a park on the land once occupied by the Castle House office block in Marefair back in 2013, it finally looks set to abandon the plans completely.

The county council had initially promised to build a park on the site. This drawing was commissioned by the Springs Voice group in August.

The county council had initially promised to build a park on the site. This drawing was commissioned by the Springs Voice group in August.

The authority has commissioned "renowned architects" Quinlan and Francis Terry, to draw up plans for town houses on the land it owns, which it claims will be in keeping with the historic nature of the site and "breathe life" back into a derelict area.

If a park were to be created it would now have to be brought forward by Northampton Borough Council by converting the adjacent Chalk Lane car park.

But chairman of the Friends of Northampton Castle (FoNC), Dr Marie Dickie OBE, feels the plans not only goes against a previous promise - but also look totally out of keeping with the surroundings.

She said: "It looks like some Disneyland attempt to create a Northampton that never existed.

"They say they will use materials from a later period in Northampton's history.

"But we already have 17th-century buildings in the town, we certainly don't need fake new ones."

The new town housing on the Castle House site will use "heritage materials," and has been designed so the castle mound can still be viewed from St Peter’s Church. The scheme will include apartments, a café and a shop with potential for community facilities.

The council says the scheme will enhance the approach to the town centre from Northampton station and could act as a catalyst for further "quality design schemes" in the county.

County council leader, Councillor Heather Smith, said: “Northampton town centre has some marvelous old buildings and I’m delighted that this new design borrows from much of this fine architectural heritage and yet incorporates the latest technology to complement contemporary living."

But Mrs Dickie said FoNC will certainly be opposing the plans when they are submitted to Northampton Borough Council.

"I don't think what is being planned would be good for the education or the entertainment of the public," she added.