THE £2.5million Northampton Marina has been officially unveiled after more than two years of construction by the Environment Agency.
The development of Northampton Marina at Becket’s Park, near Northampton town centre, is being hailed a key part of the new enterprise zone, which will see the whole area redeveloped.
Boaters are no longer forced to pass through the town, but are able to permanently or temporarily moor at one of the 80 spaces, which opened last April when the first stage of works were completed.
The last 12 months has seen the construction of a facility building which includes showers, toilets, washing machines and a site manager’s office.
The transformation also marks the first time the River Nene network and Grand Union Canal network have been joined.
Currently, 27 of the moorings have been filled at the gated marina, but the Environment Agency expects that to increase now the works are complete. Visitors are able to moor at the site for £10 a night.
The new marina was unveiled by Environment Agency Chairman, Lord Chris Smith, who said: “I’m thrilled at what has been achieved here. Because the improvement to Becket’s Park has been so dramatic, the marina is very attractive space which will encourage boat usage on the river and canal.
“We hope that it will be a catalyst for further regeneration for the area.
“The waterways system here is very much a hidden jewel, and turning our back on the river and canal networks is something that not only Northampton, but many other towns and cities, has been guilty of over the last 100 years.
“Now we have turned them around to be a focal point, and I am delighted at how well is has worked in Northampton.”
The Environment Agency added they hoped further development of a cafe or restaurant area would take place in the future.
John Markham, chairman of the West Northamptonshire Development Corporation which contributed more than half of the money for the project, said: “ I first came down here about three years ago when the idea was put on the stacks, and I thought ‘what have we taken on?’. To see it transformed now is fantastic.
“This is a key part of a the development of the area as a whole, it’s a big part of the Enterprise Zone and in attracting people who want to invest in the area.”
The Environment Agency constructed the marina on behalf of the Becket’s Park Partnership on land donated by Northampton Borough Council.
The partnership is made up of the EA, Northampton Borough Council, Northamptonshire County Council, the River Nene Regional Park, West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (WNDC) and Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership.
WNDC contributed £1,831,000 towards the £2,425,845 cost of the new marina.
To create Northampton Marina workers had to chop down 50 unsafe trees, remove 250 fish which have now been replaced and remove 8,000 tonnes of silt by barge.