Proposals to create a new park space next to Northampton’s railway station are set to be considered as part of the town’s Heritage Gateway project.
What is the Heritage Gateway?
The Heritage Gateway aims to celebrate the town’s rich history, with a focus on the former Northampton Castle site, as well as emphasising other important heritage features in the surrounding area, including St Peters Church, the only remaining building in the area that existed at the same time as the castle.
The five-year project includes a plan to purchase and demolish nearby vacant office block Castle House, to create a new public space and parkland for local residents, businesses and visitors to the town.
The project would also see the creation of a heritage trail, new exhibition panels within the railway station, promotion of its proper name ‘Northampton Castle Station’ and improved landscaping and lighting around the area.
Who is involved?
Northamptonshire County Council, Northampton Borough Council, West Northamptonshire Development Corporation, Friends of Northampton Castle, the Churches Conservation Trust and the University of Northampton are working together on the Heritage Gateway project which will help residents and visitors discover the story of Northampton whilst also enhancing the appearance of this important entrance into the town.
What happens next?
A report detailing the project will be considered by county council cabinet members next Tuesday (11th June) and then will go to the borough council’s cabinet meeting the following day (12th June).
If approved, an initial £1.7m investment from the county council will kick-start the project, with further bids to be made for funding from various other sources.
County council cabinet member for economic growth and public protection Councillor Andre Gonzalez de Savage said: “The Heritage Gateway will raise the profile of Northampton’s history, highlighting the stories behind the origin of the castle, the county town and its people.
“As well as providing an enhanced sense of place and pride in the town and county’s heritage, this project will build on the work already underway to develop the new railway station, and will help to improve this key route into Northampton for residents, visitors and businesses alike.”
Councillor Tim Hadland, Northampton Borough Council's cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and planning, said: “We feel that developing this site is an important step in improving the appearance of the town centre and the key route into Northampton, making everyone’s travels a pleasant experience.
“The addition of the heritage trail aims to uncover our proud and rich history including stories of monarchs, knights and quality craftsmen that once lived here. This trail will also emphasise several important heritage focal points attracting visitors to Northampton and informing local’s about the town’s past and hidden gems.”
On behalf of Friends of Northampton Castle, Dr Marie Dickie OBE said: "This is an exciting moment for all of us. Northampton has neglected its important medieval heritage for far too long, but now we can really make Northampton's past part of our future."
Peter Aiers, director south east of The Churches Conservation Trust said: “This is a great demonstration of the potential of partnership between the local authorities, the CCT and the local community. The Heritage Gateway concept will allow an overall plan which will tell a story of glorious past Northampton allowing everyone to access the history of the town and of the county. As the owners of the only contemporary building with the medieval castle we are keen that visitors can understand the context in which it once sat.”