Home of Northampton Saints extends opening hours - but only for non-match events

Franklin's Gardens have extended their opening hours for non-club fixtures like weddings and private parties.
Franklin's Gardens have extended their opening hours for non-club fixtures like weddings and private parties.

Plans to extend Franklin's Gardens's opening hours met limited success after nearby Northampton residents spoke out to oppose it.

For private events, Franklin's Gardens will now stay open until midnight between Monday to Thursday, until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays and until 11pm on Sundays.

The home of Northampton Saints applied to alter their opening hours and alcohol licence at a meeting with the borough council in September.

They planned to re-jig their licence to stay open and sell alcohol until 2am every night for any non-club fixture, like weddings and private parties, but not games.

But minutes from the meeting, released on Monday (October 2), show how residents wrote in to oppose the plans, saying "weddings and family events did not warrant a 2am closing time", and a new proposed smoking area was too close from houses on nearby Melbourne Road.

The minutes read: "The committee heard evidence [...] from local residents, mostly living in Melbourne Road, that there have been historical issues with noise late at night arising from events held at the rugby club.

"It has therefore decided to limit the variation of hours specifically with the aim of preventing noise nuisance to local residents."

Chairman of the St James Residents Association Graham Croucher said: "I think it's a sensible compromise given a number of concerns. We've always tried to work with the Saints and look forward to doing so in the future."

Prior to the new opening hours, Franklin's Gardens had to apply for a license for every private, non-club event. The new agreement means the club can sidestep this process.

A Saints spokesman said: "We're happy that the licensing committee recognised both that as a business we need to have the flexibility to generate income from our off-field activities to support a successful Saints team on the pitch, and that we want to be responsible neighbours to the residents of St James.

"We would like to reassure our neighbours that we remain first and foremost a rugby club and that we will continue to work with all relevant authorities in the future."