Make Greyfriars site 'available for public benefit' in 2019 urges councillor
Calls have been made to make the Greyfriars site available for public use while a decision is made over its long-term future.
The former bus station that occupied the Lady’s Lane land was demolished in March 2015, and has remained empty ever since.
But the leader for the Liberal Democrat party on Northampton Borough Council, Councillor Sally Beardsworth, believes it could be put to better use in the interim.
She said: “If you look at Greyfriars there’s absolutely nothing. It’s a huge space and it does look like a derelict site, which it is, and we could do so much more with it.”
Next Monday (November 5), Councillor Beardsworth will raise a motion calling on the borough council to ‘draw up options as part of the budget process for temporary use of the land during 2019 for the public’s benefit’.
The motion, which will need to be supported by the ruling Conservative party to progress, states that the empty site ‘adds to the sense of decline in Northampton town centre’.
Asked what the site could be utilised for in the meantime, Cllr Beardsworth said: “You could maybe make it into a small running track around the outside, you could maybe make it available for use for pedestrians and cyclists. You could put some grass areas or benches or play equipment there temporarily. You could maybe put music up there for the evenings with something like a small bandstand. The ideas are limitless.“In those three years people could have been enjoying the site. I know it’s difficult to envisage as we’re going into winter, but it might be nice in the summer when you want some fresh air.”
The long-term future of Greyfriars has been up in the air since talks broke down with developers last year over plans for a complex that included student accommodation, flats, a cinema and a number of restaurant chains.
The last council update came back in September, when Councillor Tim Hadland, the cabinet member for regeneration, confirmed that a retail study was being conducted, and that the authority had engaged professional advisors to help inform it on possible uses for the site.
But Councillor Beardsworth believes that the council should not be holding off from improving the land even if there are no concrete plans in the pipeline.
She said: “We just seem to be sitting on proposals. If you had a derelict part of your garden, you would not just sit and look at it. You might not be able to do exactly what you want with it, but you would at least try and make it presentable.”