Borough council 'exploring the possibility' of ways to attract more traders to Northampton market...and enhancing 'pedestrian experience in coming years'

Councillor Tim Hadland, Cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and planning.
Councillor Tim Hadland, Cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and planning.

Talks are underway to improve the experience of shoppers in Northampton town centre and bring in street food sellers on the Market Square, the borough council has said.

To find solutions to Northampton town centre's problems the Chron took a trip to Altrincham town centre, a market town in Greater Manchester, to see how their town has gone from ghost town to boom town in just over eight years.

Richard Roe, Trafford Borough Council corporate director of place, said it was The Sun publishing the town’s low shop vacancy rates on its front page back in 2010 which was the catalyst for change.

After spending a generous £3 million in Altrincham over the past eight years, the town has had a reinvigoration.

Help in Altrincham has come directly from the council which has created a much nicer environment, through a public realm transformation project, which in turn has built private sector confidence again.

The facelift included the council putting in new benches, street lighting and bins and pedestrianising a large part of the town centre to make it look more modern.

The old Market House, now under private ownership, has had somewhat of a renascence too after attracting local food and drink producers to sell their wares, which has kick-started a cafe culture nearby.

READ MORE: What Northampton town centre could look like by the people who have done it

So, does help as it has in Altrincham need to come directly from council leaders to restore pride and conviction back into its people?

Councillor Tim Hadland, cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and planning, said the council is working on "very similar streams of improvements" like Altrincham, in Northampton.

He said: "We’ve completed a number of town centre improvement projects over the past few years, including on Abington Street, Derngate, Gold Street and of course St Giles Street, which won the High Street of the Year Award in 2015.

"Further works are being considered to enhance the pedestrian experience on Abington Street, Mercer’s Row and Drapery in coming years.

"We’re also exploring the possibility of installing fixed and lockable stalls on Northampton market to benefit current traders and encourage new stall holders to the town, particularly those offering street food.

“The council regularly talks with developers and potential investors, with continual investment interest the town.

"Additional work is under way to promote Northampton and there will be further improvements to ensure that investors want to make it a regular destination.

"And we cannot forgot the potential benefits that the opening of the new University of Northampton’s Waterside Campus this September, could have for businesses.”

The Business Incentive Scheme grants from Northampton Borough Council has supported 152 businesses since it started in 2014, including more than 87 new businesses taking up vacant units in and around the town.

The grants have allowed 82 business to improve their shopfronts and 19 to expand their retail floor space.

As a result, businesses have gone on to create 720 jobs in the town through £6.3 million investment of their own. Over the last eight years, the number of vacant units in the town has reduced from 97 in 2010 to 84 as of June this year, the council told.

MORE STORIES FROM THE CHRON:

Town centre needs a new vision, says Northampton BID chief, but it won't involve big brand names in the near future

Chron visits northern market town to get inspiration for Northampton's Market Square

What Northampton town centre could look like