'Park and ride in Sixfields is no good for university students': residents' concern over Northampton Waterside campus

Library picture of work at the new University of Northampton campus
Library picture of work at the new University of Northampton campus

Calls have been made to explore the possibility of another park and ride scheme for students on the east side of Northampton.

Concerns have been raised by residents over potential gridlock following the University of Northampton’s move to its new Waterside campus in the town centre, which is due to open in September.

There are also worries that students could end up parking in residential areas if public transport options are not improved.

Northampton Borough councillors listened to the concerns from residents at a special scrutiny panel set up to investigate the impact of the university’s move from its current campuses in Kingsthorpe and St George’s Avenue, both of which will close to become housing.

Patrick Cross, the chairman of Whitehills and Spring Park Residents’ Association (WASPRA), said that students would park ‘where they can’ near the new campus.

A park and ride scheme with 1,800 spaces has been earmarked to run from the car parks between Sixfields and Franklin’s Gardens to the new campus.

But it might not be enough, Mr Cross told councillors at the meeting on Tuesday evening.

He said: “The park and ride will be at Sixfields so that students can park at Sixfields for free. But that will be putting a tremendous amount of pressure on St James.

“There needs to be a park and ride somewhere on the east side of the town, as students coming from Wellingborough or the east side of the county aren’t going to drive past the campus to park at Sixfields and then come back on themselves to get to university. They won’t do that, they will park on people’s verges and drives.”

The park and ride was just one of many potential issues raised about the impact of the university’s move. Other subjects raised included the impact the loss of the Park campus would have on the Kingsthorpe area, and the potential of more students heading to nightclubs in the town centre.

Councillor Dennis Meredith, who sits on the scrutiny panel, said: “I’m glad that these issues are being raised, as this scheme is going to impact on the town.”

A university spokeswoman said: “When the waterside campus opens in September, the Sixfields park and ride scheme will serve students, staff and Northampton County Council staff, it is hoped this can expand to include further town centre employers in the future.

“We have been working with Northampton Borough and County Councils for some time with the aim of securing a location for a second park and ride to the East of the town. We hope that these plans will come to fruition swiftly.”