The new inter-city train service and station will co-exist and interface with the new bus depot and interchange, relocated from Greyfriars. This hub, the Castle City Interchange, will have a special metropolitan buzz attracting retail and cafe services, developing as a robust and exciting gateway to the town centre with a strong sense of arrival. People should feel encouraged to walk into the town centre from this point as with each of the other hubs as they are all within a short distance from the main central attractions. The shuttle tram service would travel along Marefair and Gold Street both of which will become a tram and pedestrian only section of the 'Lateral' east-west service.
An underpass needs to be created to take through traffic between St. Peter's Way and Regents Square. Depending on feasibility and final distance achieved this would eliminate a major neighbourhood traffic barrier and the disturbingly shady pedestrian underpasses which currently run from Mayorhold to the Castle and Dodderidge areas.
A new, second pedestrian route from the Castle City Interchange into town running just north of Sol Central will open up the areas west of Horsemarket and Broad Street, a vast open space to be developed around a new piazza extending from St. Katherine St to Lady's Lane in place of Broad Street. This would create a new district adopting the name Mayorhold
The central theme of this new district would be the relocation of Northampton Town Market to be housed within an ultra modern landmark building designed by a celebrated architect. A flourishing market trading centre to inherit Northampton's 800 year old market tradition but injected with fresh trading concepts and making it a regional destination and emphasizing Northampton's role as a County town and provider of choice and comparative goods and services, once again of the highest standards
Northampton's present market square would then be released to become the focal point for the many civic activities and entertainments that the current market inhibits, the true town centre Square.
The hub will be based on Abington Square that, along with pedestrian improvements across the Lower Mounts-York Road junction, will serve to link the important Wellingborough Road shopping street with the town centre's principal thoroughfare Abington Street and the heart of the town centre. This would also help to revitalize Kettering Road, currently struggling to establish its new and colourful identity. Traffic could be diverted from the town centre at this point by flowing between Wellingborough Road and Kettering Road, only buses, trams and cycles able to continue west to the Lower Mounts and of course pedestrians.
The hub would be based on Regents Square, once destined to become the town centre but now sadly neglected. With thoughtful treatment this could become a revitalized and important specialist shop and boutique centre leading directly into the new Mayorhold district or along a revitalized Sheep Street and The Drapery.
The natural hub location is at the St. James Retail Park. This already provides car parking and could be developed to include a multi-storey facility for pay-on-foot parking. From here pedestrians can easily access the Gold Street area which would also help to revitalize the St. Peter's and Marefair areas now benefiting from the bustle of the tram service and a new pedestrian flow from the Castle City Interchange complex.
Visitors to the town centre would have an interesting choice of local satellite hub-centres.and the tempting free ride throughout the town centre itself on a very frequent and modern tram service. There would be no time on either line that the next tram was not in view. A vital ingredient has to be simple yet exciting tram stops so that the transport system, together with its conduit track and numerous stations has a constant presence.
From each of the hubs the free, exciting 'metro style' shuttle service will be ready to transport people through the town centre bringing a metropolitanized ambience. The variety of shopping and commercial experiences would truly transform Northampton into a unique and desirable destination.
Along with the current building improvements to our cultural offer at The Derngate and the revival of local artists and galleries, museums such as the Renee Mackintosh and our burgeoning national sports clubs in the world of rugby, cricket and soccer, Northampton will certainly be more than worthy of a journey once again.
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