Neighbours lose fight as Northampton’s National Lift Tower is given permanent permission for charity events

Group of 25 Barclaycard employees climbing down the lift tower.
Group of 25 Barclaycard employees climbing down the lift tower.

Abseiling events are to double in number at the National Lift Tower after the owners were granted permanent permission to run charity events at the site, despite reservations from neighbours in St James.

The 127-metre tall building can now play host to up to 24 abseiling days each year, with anything up to 60 participants allowed to make the brave descent on each of those occasions.

Despite neighbours’ fears that the number of spectators going to each event would create parking problems for St James residents, Northampton Borough Council’s planning officers said a ‘robust’ marshalling system was currently in place there, directing visitors to designated event parking.

Kurt Perryman, of The National Abseil Team, which runs the events at the lift tower, off Weedon Road, said: “When we started abseiling there, there was a lot of work that needed doing.

“Everything is controlled to the best of our ability and we don’t have as many people around there on event days as we used to.”

Mr Perryman said organisers had recently made use of Facebook to keep spectators updated on the abseiling times and any delays, in a bid to avoid high numbers of people parking at the base of the tower throughout the whole day.

“We are over the moon about it getting the permission,” he added following Tuesday night’s planning committee. “It’s a great thing for the community because we employ 14 or 15 people on each abseiling day.

“It brings in money for local pubs, hotels and cafes, but more importantly it’s raising thousands for charities.”

County councillor Jill Hope said she had received 10 complaints from residents about increasing the number of events at the tower.

“Sometimes the groups of spectators are very large,” she said. “The residents feel they are in the middle of a tourist attraction.”

She added that distracted motorists often drove the ‘wrong way ‘around the lift tower roundabout on event days because they were busy looking up at the action.

Mr Perryman said he had noticed this problem on non-event days as well too and said: “The signage needs to be improved.”