BACK OUR TOWN: 'Bring back free parking on weekends in the town centre'

Ryan Wakeman says the independent food scene in Northampton is on the up - but free weekend parking could make it thrive.
Ryan Wakeman says the independent food scene in Northampton is on the up - but free weekend parking could make it thrive.

A restaurant owner in Northampton has said weekend parking should be made free of charge and a grants scheme should be made available for leisure concepts.

Ryan Wakeman, co-owner of the Brooklyn Pizza Bar in Fish Street, was inspired to open his restaurant, dedicated to pizza and Brooklyn lager, nearly one year ago.

As a result of the restaurant’s success in Northampton town centre, Ryan and his business partner, now have three restaurants in Northamptonshire and Warwickshire.

“It’s one of those things that doesn’t sink in really. It’s been very much a hectic year from our side of things – it’s been very much ‘go go go’ and it’s very hard to take the opportunity to step back and take it all in sometimes,” Ryan said.

The pair, who have always shared the same dream to open a restaurant, fell in love with New York when they attended a friend’s wedding in 2014 and decided they would build a brand centred around their trip away.

He said: “The thing about independents is not only the touch of the service but you get some really quirky ideas sometimes and it adds a bit of variety, which is sometimes hard to see come across in a chain venue.”

As part of our campaign to get more shoppers stepping foot inside Northampton's independent retailers, tradespeople have told us what should be done to improve our town.

Our hope over June is to shine a light on those independent stores, cafes and restaurants, tucked away in arcades or side streets many may not realise exist.

But one thing he feels strongly about is bringing back free parking on weekends in the town centre to bring in more diners and the council adopting a grant scheme for unique leisure concepts.

He said: "One thing I personally feel strongly about is bringing back free parking on Weekends in the town centre.

"Also, I'm aware of the council grants available for taking on vacant units within the development zone, however, it would be interesting if a slightly increased or different grant was available to unique leisure concepts within the town centre.

"Something which would create a really unique hook or act as a tourist attraction to drive footfall. For example, a roof-top driving range on the roof of Grosvenor Centre car park - netted of course - laser tag, simulator racing or a video gaming lounge."

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