Attempts to create a ‘People’s Plan for Northampton’ appear to have taken a back step until Northampton Borough Council submits its bid for High Street funding.
At its full council meeting in November 2018, a motion was agreed for the council to develop the ‘People’s Plan’ to help a likely new unitary authority prioritise regeneration projects.
But the councillor behind the motion, Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Sally Beardsworth, is concerned that there appears to have been little progress on the idea four months after it was agreed.
In a written question to Conservative council leader Councillor Jonathan Nunn, she asks: “We are now four months away from the stated deadline for producing the plan, and no indication is evident of any start on this council motion.
“Can the leader please provide an update setting out the stakeholders consulted and the progress to date, and provide an assurance that the People’s Plan will be produced by July 2019?”
Responding to her question, Councillor Nunn said: “Since the motion was passed in November 2019, we have also received the details of the government's ‘Future High Streets’ fund, and in order to ensure that there is a way of both capturing the views and aspirations of so many people and groups, and to also ensure that we submit a good Future High Streets Expression of Interest, NBC has recently coordinated a new stakeholder group (Northampton Forward) to further look at the wider regeneration of the town.
“Given the time pressure of the Expression of Interest deadline of 22nd March, and its focus on funding the built environment, the initial focus of this group is demonstrating to government the town’s need and ambition, and beginning to shape a vision and masterplan that will create a vibrant and sustainable future.”
The Future High Streets fund was launched in December, and has put £675million into a pot to bring high streets into the modern age.
Stakeholders in ‘Northampton Forward’ include the University of Northampton, the Town Centre BID, Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce and Royal & Derngate, many of which were expected to be consulted on the People’s Plan.
Speaking about the consultation for the People’s Plan moving forward, Councillor Nunn continued: “This must involve the widest possible consultation, and it is essential this this is not narrow. Therefore Northampton Forward may coordinate consultation, but the process must involve panels or sub groups across different subject areas and to ensure that it takes account of the views of a vast number of sources, from the public, to the council’s forums, and partners across very many other areas such as health, sport, the voluntary sector and community groups.”