THE DEVELOPMENT of a new bus station for Northampton has been approved by councillors.
During a meeting on Tuesday night, Northampton Borough Council’s planning committee voted by a majority of seven to one to approve plans to build a new station on the site of the current Fishmarket building in Sheep Street.
The building will replace the 36-year-old Greyfriars bus station, which the council intends to demolish so new shops can be built on the land.
Following a public backlash to the plans, a large turnout was expected at the planning meeting, so the council moved the committee into the Guildhall’s Great Hall and made sure the new bus station was the only item on the agenda.
But in the end, only 24 members of the public turned out to hear the debate.
Among them was the chairman of the Northampton Bus Users group, Mike Barlow, who expressed fears about the plans for the new station.
Discussing the amount of traffic there would be around the building, he said: “Our main concern is the safety of passengers. School children could rush across the road to the bus station without taking due care and attention. That is a potential safety hazard.”
The bus station will feature a total of 12 bus stands on the Fishmarket site. A further two will be in nearby Bradshaw Street and seven more will be in The Drapery.
Inside the building will be a travel information centre, toilets, a waiting area for passengers, a shop and a cafe.
As part of the new development, a mini-roundabout will be built at the junction of Silver Street and Bradshaw Street and three new pedestrian crossings will be created outside the bus station.
The majority of councillors on the planning committee welcomed the development, claiming it would improve both the town centre and facilities for bus users.
Councillor Brian Oldham (Con, West Hunsbury) said: “I’m a regular bus user and this holds no fears for me. I think it will be a good asset for the town centre and it’s a very good idea.”
Only councillor Geraldine Davies (Lab, Delapre & Briar Hill) voted against the development.
She said: “I welcome having a new bus station in the town centre because we do need to move forward.
“But I don’t think this development meets the needs of bus users. I don’t think it’s acceptable to have to leave the building and walk down the street and wait elsewhere for other buses.”
The development will allow the current Greyfriars building to be knocked down so new shops can be built on the site.
The development is tied up with the extension of the Grosvenor Centre, but councillors have said the new station is needed even if the Grosvenor plan does not go ahead.