Plans to make Northampton 'UK City of Culture for 2025' approved by cabinet

Plans have been approved to put Northampton on the cultural map by 2025.
Plans have been approved to put Northampton on the cultural map by 2025.

Plans to improve the culture, heritage and tourism of Northampton and increase the number of visitors to the town have been agreed at Northampton Borough Council’s cabinet meeting.

The committee’s main recommendation is now to develop a "cultural strategy", which will support a bid for Northampton to become the UK City of Culture for 2025, following an 11-month study conducted by the overview and scrutiny committee.

Gaining this status would develop a strong focus on arts and culture and give a huge boost to the local economy, attracting additional investment and funding.

Other agreed recommendations at last night's meeting - which will support the bid - include the creation of an extended heritage trail around the town, marked out with metal shoes, and borough councillors being trained up as tourist guides.

Councillor Jamie Lane, chair of the scrutiny panel for culture and tourism, said: “Northampton is a town of rich heritage and historical significance, and by 2025, we want to highlight the many positives to both new and existing residents, visitors and businesses.”

Northampton Museums & Art Gallery collections could be displayed in pop-up exhibitions in empty retail units and a temporary Tourist Information Centre opened in a prominent town centre location until it is re-housed in the new museum on Guildhall Road in late 2019.

The committee also recommended the use of blue plaques to mark historic buildings, free maps highlighting key attractions and liaising with the town’s major shoe companies, to encourage their customers to visit other parts of the town after shopping at their factory outlets.

Councillor Vicky Culbard (Lab, Delapre & Briar Hill) said: "We are so underselling ourselves. This is an incredible town and we need someone appointed to take on a role to promote the town with the right determination, motivation and drive."