CRITICS who claimed plans to redevelop the Grosvenor Centre in Northampton would never happen, will soon be proved wrong, councillors have claimed.
In one of the biggest steps forwards in the multi-million-pound project since plans were first revealed in 2000, the West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (WNDC) yesterday approved funding of £8 million for the scheme.
The money will be used to build a replacement bus station for Northampton – allowing Greyfriars to be demolished – and to pay for Stagecoach to move out of the Greyfriars building.
The funding deal was approved during a meeting of the WNDC which lasted only 40 minutes.
During the meeting, Councillor Richard Church (Lib Dem, Kingsley) said: “I think the naysayers and critics are being proved wrong. This project will come to fruition and it’s a tremendous credit to Northampton that in these difficult times this sort of commitment is being made by the private and public sector.
“It shows tremendous confidence in Northampton.”
He was backed by Northampton Borough Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, Councillor Tim Hadland (Con, Old Duston), who added: “This is a great day for Northampton. This will improve the town and relieve people from having to hold their breath, because Northampton has been holding its breath for some considerable time over this.”
The WNDC’s board heard the shopping centre’s owners, Legal & General, will submit a planning application for the extension of the centre in July. Putting together the planning application is expected to cost the firm more than £1 million.
Northamptonshire County Council is also expected to spend up to £500,000 drawing up plans for the new bus station, which will be built on the site of the Fishmarket.
But during yesterday’s meeting, the leader of the authority, Councillor Jim Harker (Con, Kettering Rural) confirmed that cost would not be passed onto the borough council.
The construction of the new bus station is due to start next year.