Plans to renovate parks and create news ones in and around Northampton including a historical site in Naseby

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Battle of Naseby Country Park would add to tourist attractions

Plans to renovate parks and create new ones to fill “noticeable gaps” across West Northamptonshire have been set out by the council as part of a lengthy development strategy.

West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) currently manages 154 parks and green spaces throughout the region, including country parks, meadows, recreational parks, play areas, linear parks and memorial gardens.

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The authority has laid out initial plans to investigate the demand for seven new green spaces in areas without these assets.

The historic village of Naseby has been flagged as a potential site for a country park to celebrate its heritage.
Credit: GoogleThe historic village of Naseby has been flagged as a potential site for a country park to celebrate its heritage.
Credit: Google
The historic village of Naseby has been flagged as a potential site for a country park to celebrate its heritage. Credit: Google

The document includes initial plans for sites at:

  • Battle of Naseby Country Park
  • Brackley Country (linear) Park
  • Houghton Linear Park
  • Marefair Heritage Park
  • Eastern Northampton Park
  • West Northamptonshire Productive Woodland
  • Northampton Town Centre

The proposed park at Naseby would seek to commemorate the battle site, significant in the English Civil War, and provide a valuable addition to the area’s tourist attractions. Particular support was given by cabinet members and the opposition, hailing it as an “important part of our nation’s democracy” and backing the plans to uplift its history.

Proposals to create a country park to address the “glaring” gap in green space in the south-west of West Northamptonshire, serving Brackley and surrounding villages was also praised. An option to create a park which uses part of the former Great Central Railway, through the countryside to Helmdon, was suggested in the strategy.

Work on the Marefair Heritage Park on the boundary of the once famous Northampton Castle, which is costing the council £1.5 million, is expected to be completed by Autumn 2024.

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The ‘productive woodland’ site, which has the added benefit of capturing residual carbon emissions, is also further along in the process and WNC will prepare a business case to create the new green space “as soon as possible”.

The rest of the suggested parks are still at the very first stage of creation and will need to carry out feasibility studies to establish the likely level of demand, what facilities are needed, the environmental impact, sources of funding and overall viability.

Other suggestions to enhance existing parks and bring them up to a good standard were also put forward, including installing new toilet blocks, renovating play parks, creating high-ropes activities and more.

Cllr Emma Roberts (Labour) spoke at the meeting to share her frustration with the draft strategy. She said: “I don’t believe this strategy sets an ambitious strategic direction. This is rushed, hurried and has got no detail at all.

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“There’s no sense of community inclusion in this draft. There’s not a single person in the strategy. We have got to move away from seeing consultation as a tick-box exercise.

“I am pleading with you to amend this recommendation that we revise the draft strategy before it goes out to public consultation. There’s a massive opportunity here with this strategy that we are going to lose.”

An action plan, included in the draft strategy, set out 84 target delivery dates for the renovations, estimating the business plans for some of the new parks- including Naseby and Eastern Northampton- wouldn’t be completed until 2031. Without this essential document, works will not be able to begin on the creation or transformation of parks.

Concerns were also raised about the timeframes, with Cllr Keith Holland-Delamere (Labour, Billing and Rectory Farm) commenting that some of the problems with local parks need “tackling in the next couple years, not the next decade”.

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Cllr Phil Larratt acknowledged that some of the timescales of the plans were quite long, but said that plans have to start somewhere and that it was “very much the first draft”.

He added: “Our parks are great, but they can do even more and there are parts of West Northamptonshire with limited provision. We encourage everyone with an interest in the parks, present or future, to respond to this consultation.”

You can read a full breakdown of the draft strategy and park plans here.

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