Consulation shows 'clear consensus' for Northampton's masterplan says council

A Masterplan for Northampton has received broad approval, the council says.
A Masterplan for Northampton has received broad approval, the council says.

A 'clear consensus' has been received for a new Northampton masterplan - but town leaders now have work to do to convince those sitting on the fence.

That is according to the borough council, which has released some early headline findings from a consultation on the proposals first aired in May.

The masterplan includes plans for a food hall in Market Square and a large park on the Greyfriars site, along with a host of other potential improvements.

But achieving them will rely heavily on the Northampton Forward group being successful in its bid for a £25 million share of the Government's Future High Streets fund.

A total of 742 people have now filled out responses to the masterplan, which focuses on improving Marefair, Gold Street, Market Square, Greyfriars, Fish Street, St Giles Street and the area around Abington Street.

Those filling in the questionnaire were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the changes, or if they were unsure.

And the borough council, leading the proposals, says the response has been 'largely positive', providing a 'clear consensus' for turning them into reality.

Council leader Jonathan Nunn, said: “Responses were positive around the changes that have been proposed within the masterplan, with particularly strong support for more residential provision within the town centre and encouraging more independent shops and other businesses.

"That said, a good number of people still clearly feel our current bus station offering needs to be further improved.

“We’re factoring all of these comments into our thinking around the detailed masterplan, while not losing sight of the majority of those who favoured the outline proposals we put forward."

In relation the plans for Abington Street - 55.35 per cent were for and 9.75 per cent were against.

In Drapery – 48.12 per cent were for and 10.94 per cent were against.

In Marefair and Gold Street – 53.31 per cent were for and 6.21 per cent were against.

In Fish Street and St Giles Street – 63.92 per cent were for and 6.19 per cent were against.

Responses for Market Square (49.53 per cent for and 23.83 per cent against) and Greyfriars (48.5 per cent for and 22.66 per cent against) offered more mixed views.

Respondents to the questionnaire were also asked a series of questions about what they would like to see in the town centre.

More than 82 per cent felt food and leisure uses should be encouraged in the town centre, while many supported additional residential use – particularly in Abington Street –and a large proportion favoured more bars, restaurants and retail in Market Square.

“The responses show that a reasonable number of people are uncertain about the proposals and haven’t felt able to say they’re either for them or against them,” said Councillor Nunn.

“They clearly remain to be convinced, so all we can do is factor the comments we’ve received into a more detailed masterplan and see how that is received.”

Detailed responses are still being collated and a document outlining the results will be published in due course, the council says.

Laura Graham, Chair of LiftNN, said “We are still at the start of a long journey towards a Northampton town centre that reflects the changing needs and wants of its community.

“I’m pleased that the people who engaged with the consultation have responded positively to the proposals and offered exciting ideas of their own.

"I’m looking forward to seeing the detailed responses from the public and ensuring they are reflected in the next stage of the regeneration planning.”