'Aspirations' to open another park and ride for students on east side of Northampton

The University park and ride currently runs from Sixfields to the Waterside campus
The University park and ride currently runs from Sixfields to the Waterside campus

There are ‘aspirations’ to have another park and ride scheme for university students on the east side of Northampton, according to council leader Jonathan Nunn.

The current University of Northampton park and ride runs from Sixfields to the new Waterside Campus for students and staff, but concerns have been raised that students making their way from the east of the county will not be using the scheme.

Instead, residents have raised concerns that they are parking in the town centre near to the campus, instead of driving past the campus to Sixfields.

Speaking at Monday’s full council meeting of Northampton Borough Council, the authority’s leader Councillor Nunn was speaking about a Christmas trial period where the park and ride was opened up to members of the public.

But he dropped in a line that the council would be exploring ‘anything they could do’ to implement a park and ride for the east side of town.

He told fellow councillors: “Students come from Kettering, and we shouldn't expect them to drive all the way across town."

Speaking later in the week to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Councillor Nunn said: “There’s nothing firm, but previously I think the county council had some sort of plan for the Bedford Road that may have potentially included a park and ride, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside.

“We think it would be great to have in mind something on the other side of town. It’s just an aspiration at the moment.”

The idea has been welcomed by Patrick Cross, who is a former chairman of the Whitehills and Springs Park Residents Association (WASPRA).

Back in May last year, while he was chairman of WASPRA, he told councillors that there would be a need for a park and ride on the east side of town ahead of the Waterside campus opening in September.

Eight months down the line, and with the campus now open, his view remains the same.

He said: “To me, for a park and ride system to work in any town you need it on corners of the towns on the outskirts so that it attracts people from the north, south, east and west. You have to attract people on the way to where they are going.

“Currently students drive past the university to get to Sixfields for them to then come back on themselves.

“I’m glad they have listened because it will save a lot of traffic in the town centre. But they hadn’t done their homework - it was almost suck it and see. When you open a campus with no parking facilities for students you question why. An extra park and ride is much needed.”

But Councillor Nunn admitted there was an element of playing ‘a waiting game’ for the right site to become available.

He added: “There would be a few issues to juggle, but we are in active dialogue with the University on all transport issues.”