Following John Sheinman's controversial artical on the future of Northampton Town Centre published in the Chronicle & Echo on 25th September 2006 a number of people responded. The following was typical of the many letters received and John's reply is included as they were both published by the Chronicle & Echo on 2nd October 2006.

Sent: Monday, September 25, 2006 12:45 PM

Subject: Northampton with vision

Dear Sir

I'm pleased to find your website, it's important people make a push towards fulfilling the great potential of what is, in many ways, a very decent town, but under-performing its full potential.

There is just one thing I cannot agree with - your suggestion that the bus station is a "fine building". In my opinion, it is most certainly not. It is truly hideous! Whilst beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the fact that it came 3rd in a national vote to demolish ugly buildings shows that I am not in the minority! Surrounded, as it is, my other monstrosities such as M&S, BHS and Northampton House buildings, it's a place well worth keeping clear of!

Our shopping malls are laughably tiny and that's why we shop in MK, where there's more stores to go to. If we are to be tempted to use the retail shops in the town centre, the bus station surely needs to be pulled down (and moved near the railway station?) so that the Grosvenor can be made into a mall of at least reasonable size worth visiting.

Anyway, I don't mean to sound negative, i think your campaign is good, but I just couldn't let the idea that the bus station be retained go without comment.

Thanks

Chris Petrie

 

Dear Mr. Petrie ------------------ Thank you for your interest and prompt response.

In general we obviously agree and want to see the town back to its former self. You do raise an interesting and popularly held point of view about Greyfriars however which I think arises to a great extent from the current run down state of the interior and its lack of modern facilities.

All works of an artistic origin should impact differently on every person and consensus is certainly not a foregone conclusion. So it is bound to be with architecture also, whether new or traditional.

There are many architects (and others like myself) who consider that Greyfriars Bus Station is one of very few landmark modern buildings in Northampton. Built in the style of the internationally famed Scottish architect James Stirling (1926-1992), Greyfriars represents a powerful, post-modern statement and it is normal and good that it can generate strong feelings. The least known view of the north side elevation from the Upper Mounts however shows the building at its best and should be more exposed.

I think that most people judge the bus station from the inside and rarely see it from its outside elevation, and the dilapidated and ergonomically unsound state that has evolved is indeed pathetic.

I firmly believe that, as a measure for the next five years or so, until such time as the bus station might become part of a transportation hub in conjunction with the development of the railway station, immediate steps should be taken to completely refurbish the interior and convert it into the metropolitan passenger interchange that it has the potential to be and that we can be proud of. Arrival is so vital to the overall impression of the town one is visiting, whether for the first time or commuting on a regular basis, and this medium-term step must be seen as a priority.

If and when plans for an extended and updated Grosvenor Centre do eventually materialise it may well be a consideration, if demolition could be avoided, to use the bus station as a sporting venue for spectator racquet sports for example ? especially with the ample parking so close at hand.

In addition the office space above could be provided with a prestige entrance and piazza facing north instead of the original entrance that was never even close to adequate. This could include an impressive set-down front entrance drive, that actually works and the offices would attract interest from national companies in search of centrally located headquarters as well as bringing to life the offices already existing along the Upper Mounts. The Church of The Holy Sepulchre would become an integral part of the scheme and add the important element of heritage instead of remaining sidelined, as it has been for so long.

What we really need right now is a united voice for change and an initiative to move forward now rather than in the future with locally conceived ideas and projects that attract the most popular support and will distinguish Northampton as a destination demanding of a visit.


- John Sheinman

 

 

 



 


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