Northampton Town Centre
May 2005

Set out below are observations and suggestions from The Richardsons Group

All comments are intended to be constructive

These are very exciting times

Introduction

• The Town Centre should be the vital heart of the community, which is enthusiastically used by all occupation groups and all age groups, during both daytime and nighttime. Until this is achieved, we have failed.

• Northampton as a town will always finally be judged by the quality of its Town Centre.

• Northampton is predicted to increase its population from 200,000 to 300,000. Anyone can make the town bigger. Not everyone can make it better. Making it substantially better should be our objective.

• We should all strive to create a town centre based on the solid foundation of quality, which ensures civic pride for future generations – no quick, cheap fixes.
Ypres is a classic case of quality urban regeneration.

• The Town Centre should be defined as the area within the inner ring road.
This would enable the investment of time, energy and cash, to have a more dramatic effect.

• There should be a Town Centre Action Plan that is delivered in the shortest possible time. This is because the Town Centre is in terminal decline. We suggest the following areas for action:

Access

1. If the population is to increase to 300,000 there is an urgent need for more car parking capacity. Strive to be more user friendly to people who use cars
2. Publish a clear ‘parking strategy’ document that is updated every
two years
3. Publish a Parking leaflet that states the total number of parking spaces and the relevant tariffs. This publication should be printed in a different colour each time the prices change
4. Ensure that arterial roads and roundabouts are well groomed and free of litter
5. Have variable message signing for the car parks
6. Publish monthly in the press, the average percentage of parking capacity used per day. People will be surprised how low these are. It may help to dispel the notion that there is ‘nowhere to park’
7. Make parking provision and give concessions for lower paid workers in the Town Centre. NBC staff should not have any advantage
8. All car parks need to be pay on exit – not pay and display. This is essential
9. Free parking after 6.00pm and all day Sundays
10. Allow parking on the Market Square after 6.00pm
11. Plan a future where there is underground parking under the Market Square as in Gent, Toulouse and Rouen
12. Have clearly identified inner and outer ring roads
13. Have a good park and ride scheme that works because it is located close enough to the Town Centre, e.g. Midsummer Meadow and Delapre Park. (Look at the Cambridge system)
14. Develop public transport that is a credible alternative.

Development

1. No more pubs. More restaurants please. We need to increase the eating culture in town centres
2. Categorically reject for all time the ludicrous notion of a canopy over the
Market Square
3. Implement a dramatic and quality upgrade for Abington Street
4. Implement quality design and control for all shop fascias
5. Veto poor building design and the use of poor building materials
6. Continue to oppose the proliferation of gaming machine shops
7. Encourage individual, small company, specialist shops. This could be done by UBR concessions

Environment

1. Implement an alcohol ban in the streets
2. Implement a begging ban
3. Have zero tolerance to graffiti and fly posters
4. Have a broken window policy on minor repairs via the Town
Centre Ranger
5 Employ zero tolerance policing to the yob culture
6 Have first class street cleaning
7 Have registration of street traders and musicians
8 Remove unwanted and superfluous traffic signs
9 Have harmonised quality street furniture
10 Have first class savage collection
11 Use CCTV to obtain high profile prosecutions for litter/vandalism/graffiti/yob behaviour
12 Use Police specials to man taxi ranks at night on Fridays and Saturdays.

Any Other Business

1. Generate and market cultural activities more strenuously
2. Have a first class rail service to London
3. Complete the North West bypass
4. Audit public perceptions of the Town Centre via UCN
5. Check how we are rated in the Verdict survey
6. Check how we are rated in the Lockwood survey

Conclusions

In 2004, external auditors assessed Northampton as follows:

• The Council was in the bottom 23% of the Country’s 150 largest authorities
• The Police authority was 35th out of 43
• UCN was 108th out of 121
• NGH achieved one star out of a possible three
• TOPPS was 7th out of 83 for the most parking fines given out.

With a new Chief Executive for the Northampton Borough Council, a new Chief Constable and the newly appointed and powerful Chairman of the UDC, we have every chance of grasping the opportunity to salvage the embarrassing position we find ourselves in.

It has been said by many people that Northampton has lacked strong leadership in the past.

It could be said that the future of our Town will very much be dependent of the quality of leadership we receive from these three people. Their success will earn our eternal gratitude.

These are very exciting times.

Northampton Town Centre / Additional Specific Suggestions   

  1. The library to be upgraded but retained in it's current location
  2. The Fish Market to be converted into a gallery for local art
  3. The Old Law Courts in George Row to be a gallery for prestige art and travelling exhibitions.
  4. The Market Square to be cleared of stalls. Future markets should be specific e.g. Farmers Market, Antiques Market etc
  5. This market to be conducted on the continental model.
  6. The market square should also be used for frequent entertainment - both free and pay to view.
  7. The entertainment should be both high brow and medium brow.
  8. All Saints Square to be made softer and more attractive.
  9. Abington Street to be retained as a pedestrian area but to be softened with greenery and water features when it is upgraded. This would encourage people to meander and socialise.
  10. Zero tolerance policing and a conspicuous police presence will eradicate yob culture and make the area attractive to the decent majority.
  11. Install a new building facade on 'Penman's Folly' (the old Notre Damn)
  12. Ensure the Mounts swimming Pool has enough investment to make it a premium facility.
  13. Car parks with security staff to stay open till 9.00pm for entry and 3.00 am for exit - even if this is lower levels only.
  14. Stop rewarding those motorists who shop at Weston Favel, Riverside, Sixfields and St James Retail Parks - whilst punishing those who shop in the Town Centre.
  15. The Town Centre to contain the following PREMIUM facilities:
    • Royal and Derngate Theatre
    • Rennie Mackintosh @ 78 Derngate
    • The Mounts Pool
    • The Central Library
    • The Market Square
    • All Saints Church
    • The Church Restaurant
    • The Central Museum
    • The Old Crown Court Gallery
    • Holy Sepulchre Church
    • St Giles Church
    • Commercial St. Casino
    • A dedicated Boot and Shoe Museum
    • A vastly upgraded Abington Street
P.S.   The churches should all be encouraged to promote live music performances and social debates.

 

 

 

 



 

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