More than 700 sign petition calling for county council to deliver promise on castle-themed park plan

Plans for a spacious play park and plaza on the former Castle House site have been proposed by Springs Voice.
Plans for a spacious play park and plaza on the former Castle House site have been proposed by Springs Voice.

More than 700 people have signed a petition calling on the county council to reignite plans for a park celebrating Northampton Castle, after the authority appeared to change its mind on the scheme last year.

Back in 2013, the council agreed to buy the ugly 1980s-built Marefair office block once used by Barclaycard, so the site could be transformed into a new “public space and urban parkland.”

The idea was that a park could celebrate the site of Northampton’s 1084-built castle on which it stood.

Two years later, that commitment appeared to have been scrapped when the authority hired an architect to draw up plans for 30 homes there instead.

But on Thursday the Friends of Northampton Castle group is due to hand in a 711-name petition calling for County Hall to get the park plan back on track.

Organiser Marie Dickie OBE, said: “I think this petition just shows how out of touch the council is.

“It shows that, across the town, there is a strong feeling people would like to see the heritage of the town celebrated more effectively.”

In August, Springs Voice, which is the forum in charge of Spring Borough’s Neighbourhood Plan, drew up its own designs for the site.

The concept art featured parkland with castle-themed play equipment for children alongside educational placards, seating areas and just five houses.

But the county council claimed the reason parkland was discounted was because of feedback from a working group it set up to oversee a development on the land.

A statement from the authority in August, said: “The (working) group - which includes the Friends of Northampton Castle - felt that open space was not the best use of the land in terms of reflecting the heritage of the site.”

Mrs Dickie said the friends group has in fact supported a plan for a park on the land since before 2013.

The petition will be presented to the full council when it meets at County Hall on Thursday morning.