Masterplan vision revealed for Northampton town centre after 1,500 take part in major consultation

A pedestrian-friendly new design for Drapery, large residential developments and a massively revamped Market Square suitable for an outdoor cinema form the basis of a new masterplan for Northampton.

Tuesday, 8th October 2019, 6:33 pm
Market Square would be repurposed to house a sheltered events space.

Earlier this year the Northampton Forward group put plans to radically transform the town centre out to consultation as part of its bid to attract £25 million worth of funding from the Government.

More than 1,500 people attended open events where their proposals were put on display and 656 people sent in written responses to the plans.

Having received all the feedback, Northampton Forward has now unveiled its final masterplan for the town centre - which will effectively act as a blueprint for how the town should develop in the future.

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Links between the Cultural Quarter and Becket's Park would be improved.

Northampton borough councillors will vote to adopt the vision at tonight's cabinet meeting.

Leader of Northampton Borough Council Jonathan Nunn said: "It's great to see a masterplan because we know the town needs a lot to be done to make us the best we can be.

"It's great to have a plan that finally sets us on that journey."

The document, drawn up by architects 5Plus, focus on five 'quarters' in the centre - Market Square, Marefair, Abington Street, Greyfriars and the Cultural Quarter.

Apartment blocks would be added to Abington Street in place of the BHS and M&s stores.

But its main focus is on how these areas could be better connected with new walkways, open areas and a more coherent style.

For Market Square it proposes transforming the area into a 'flexible' event space, installing a structure that could act as a bandstand, an outdoor cinema area and a venue for indoor markets. This marks a slight departure from the food hall proposed in the draft masterplan.

But perhaps most eye-opening are plans to remove buses from Drapery and re-site the stops at Greyfriars in a bid to make the key street more pedestrian-friendly. Councillor Nunn said this particular part of the proposals came about as a result of the consultation.

The masterplan proposes in more detail how Greyfriars can be better connected to Market Square - partly by knocking through part of the Grosvenor Centre and re-establishing Wood Street. Greyfriars road would also be replaced with a linear green park next to a mixed-use development on the former bus station land.

A linear park and a major mixed-use development is planned for Greyfriars. Plus the land could be used to house bus stops once again.

In the cultural quarter, council-owned buildings in Guildhall Road could become further gallery spaces, while in Abington Street, the plans show the former M&S and BHS buildings being replaced by apartments.

"This project is very council-focussed in terms of the planning that needs to be done to achieve the vision," said Martin Mason, chief executive of Tricker's shoes and member of the Northampton Forward board. "But there has been a lot of business input too.

"We employ 96 people - and although our factory is just outside the town centre - we want a place where they will want to stay in after work and enjoy.

"It's important to say that this is a long-term vision - this isn't going to happen in the next two to three years."

The crossing between Marefair and Gold Street would be made more pedestrian-friendly.