Northampton residents say Racecourse should be left out of neighbourhood plan that could make park 'friendlier'

An early consultation had 37 asking for the Racecourse to be left out of the neighbourhood plan.
An early consultation had 37 asking for the Racecourse to be left out of the neighbourhood plan.

Concerns that a Northampton neighbourhood plan will take control of The Racecourse away from residents are based on "myths", the borough council says.

The first stages of a neighbourhood plan to revitalize three Northampton districts, including The Racecourse, will go before cabinet in two weeks.

Over 1,000 letters were sent to households in Semilong and Trinity to hear their views on a plan to bring together the local residents and organisations and make joint appeals to the borough council for projects.

It is hoped the plan could be used to make the Racecourse a "more friendly" public space while preparing Semilong & Trinity for an influx of housing and families in the next 10 years.

But a presentation on Wednesday (August 30) revealed the council received only 47 replies out of the 1,000 letters sent - a response of 0.5 per cent.

Many replies focused heavily on the Racecourse's place in the plan, with four-out-of-five responses asking for it to be left out.

Others raised concerns that the boundaries of the plans stop short of some 200 houses bordering the Racecourse, leading many to think they would not have a say on what happens in the park.

Planning policy officer Emma Arkley said: "I have seen the findings and I think there are some myths to be busted surrounding the plan.

"Many people seem to think the plan will exclude anybody not in the boundaries of Semilong, Trinity and the Racecourse. In fact, literally anybody in the universe will have a say in what the plan can achieve."

A consultation period on the neighbourhood plan ended in July. Two neighbourhood plans have been carried out in Northampton, one in Duston and one in Spring Boroughs.

Speaking after the presentation, ward councillor for Trinity Jane Birch said: "It was good that people are so passionate. This plan has had more responses than any neighbourhood plan the borough council has introduced so far.

"There's a lot more work to do to make sure we meet everyone's aspirations."

The consultation findings will be published on Northampton Borough Council's website on September 5 and will be discussed by cabinet on September 13.

Emma Arkley said the plan is still in its earliest stages and could be "three years away" from its first referendum when an independent examiner will be brought in to assess the plan.