Don’t forget town centre history in proposed regeneration of Northampton, councillors urged

Northampton Borough Council is hoping to help regenerate the town centre with government funding
Northampton Borough Council is hoping to help regenerate the town centre with government funding

Councillors have been urged to make Northampton’s heritage a key part of the regeneration plans for the town centre.

The borough council is through to the second round of bidding for a £25million sum from the Government’s Future High Streets fund to help improve the town centre.

Initial proposals include revamping the market square into a food hall, and reconnecting the Greyfriars site with the town centre and turning it into a lineal park.

But the Friends of Northampton Castle want to see the town’s history also play a part in the town centre’s revamp, not just a modern relaunch of the area.

Dr Marie Dickie told members of Northampton Borough Council’s overview and scrutiny committee on Monday evening (July 15) that the regeneration gives the council another opportunity to ‘refocus on our history’.

She said: “We need somebody on the Northampton Forward board who takes a real interest in the town’s heritage, and without someone who knows about the history you’re in danger of losing that history.

“The town centre used to have gates, and for me it’s important that we reinstate those gates as it would give us back that medieval history. They were near where the station is now, and where the Holy Sepulchre was, and I think something like this would give the town back some pride.

“So please remember when you are putting forward your views, don’t forget your history. History can make the future better.”

Council leader Jonathan Nunn said that he saw the town centre as more of a visiting experience than a shopping experience in the future, saying that York could be a possible model to follow.

He said: “For me, that history and heritage is our future. I think the town centre’s future is more along the lines of offering an independent visiting experience.

“I think our bid was successful because Northampton has all the material assets to recreate itself. We also showed the town centre in our bid warts and all. There’s no shying aware that if you live in Northampton, you can do your shopping in Milton Keynes or Rushden Lakes.”

He said that Northampton had a higher percentage of retail in its town centre than many similar sized towns, and that this had seen the town hit particularly badly by the rise of internet shopping.