Northampton graveyard could become play area

St Edmund's Churchyard, St Edmond's Road.
St Edmund's Churchyard, St Edmond's Road.

A Northampton residents’ association is appealing for more space for children to play in their area.

The St Edmunds Residents’ Association met in Victoria Road Church Rooms, off Cyril Street, on Monday evening, to discuss plans to turn a local cemetery into a park.

The group has already met with Northampton Borough Council to discuss the possibility of turning St Edmund’s Churchyard, off St Edmund’s Road, into a play space.

Secretary of the residents’ association, Jim Wishart, said the church had backed the plans, which would include re-opening two entrances to the graveyard, creating footpaths to link to three entrances and providing litter bins.

He said: “The main thing is that it would be a calm area in the summer time. When you are inside there it is astonishing to think that we are in a town. It feels like the countryside.”

Other proposals for the space include the movement of a group of memorials to allow an area for communal activities, including an open air theatre, music performances and nature trails for children.

The residents’ association will also ask the council to re-open the gates to the multi-use games area, the Muga, off Ethel Street, which was closed a few years ago.

Councillor Danielle Stone (Labour, Castle), who also attended the meeting, is appealing to the council to turn areas including Stockley Street, a cul-de-sac lined with a number of garages, into a play area for the town’s young people.

She said: “There are a lot of reasons that I want to see play spaces brought into Northampton. One is that we have got the space.

“The second reason is because it does not cost much, and the third is because it involves all of the community and brings the community together. The fourth reason is that it helps to redress the balance to the priority given to cars over children.”

Play streets involve one street in a neighbourhood being turned into a space for children for a few hours a week, manned by parents.

Councillor Stone praised the play area in The Racecourse, and added: “The reason The Racecourse play area is so spectacular is because children helped to design it. Our children deserve to be included in the consultation and design of the new play spaces.”

Anne Wishart, chairman of the residents’ association, said: “We should ask the children what they would like. They just want somewhere to play.”