The second round of engagement to invite local residents, businesses and visitors to help fine-tune the future of the vacant Greyfriars site in Northampton is well underway.

Just two weeks since its launch, more than 575 people have shared their views on the proposals which seek to transform this part of town from an empty disused site into a vibrant space for people to live, play and connect.

The 14-acre area is set to amplify a forgotten piece of the town into a new neighbourhood which will encompass multi-generational living, dedicated green space and entertaining space, while improving connectivity to the town centre with improved transport routes.

Following on from the initial engagement in December 2023, West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) is now presenting the refined vision to the local community to help shape. So far, more than 60% of respondents have said that they think the proposals will make the town centre a better place to live and visit and have rated the have rated the vision statement 4 or 5 hearts out of 5!

The initial comments reflect a positive response to every aspect of the proposals. When asked, the plans for the new Greyfriars Amphitheatre and reopening Emporium Way has been ranked as having the most positive impact. Closely followed by a new town park and a reinvented Corn Exchange.

The vision presented will see Greyfriars become a new vibrant neighbourhood within Northampton town centre, that will restitch forgotten connections and create new ones, amplifying the impact of nature and creativity throughout with Northampton’s first town park as its centrepiece.

Cllr Dan Lister, Cabinet Member for Local Economy, Culture and Leisure at WNC, said:

“It is fantastic to hear from local residents, businesses and community groups as part of the second phase of engagement to fine tune our plans for Greyfriars. The plans will transfigure the empty 14,000 sqm site into a vivid community compromising of high-quality homes, 12 new bus stands and a new arts and performing hub. We look forward to speaking to residents about our vision at the in-person event at the Grosvenor Centre, Northampton on Saturday 1 June between 9am and 5pm.”

The online engagement will run through until Sunday 9 June. Visit ampnorthampton.com to view the emerging vision to amplify the area and have your say. An in person event will take place at the Grosvenor Centre, Northampton on Saturday 1 June between 9am and 5pm.

This area will be enhanced by a new Greyfriars park running along Lady’s Lane with an outdoor amphitheatre and pedestrian-first public realm. A renewed Corn Exchange will act as a multi-use culture-led hub that welcomes performance, classes and showcase; while Belgrave House will be transformed into a creative, cultural and community building that celebrates the thinkers and makers of Northampton.

The proposals have been crafted by a multi-disciplinary team led by Studio Egret West, who have been commissioned by West Northamptonshire Council to help shape the vision for the area. This team comprises urban designers, architects, landscape architects, and transport, commercial and sustainability experts.

Planning permission has been granted to transform Chalk Lane Car Park in Marefair, Northampton into a new park celebrating the heritage of the former castle and local area; and which will offer open green space for families and the local community to enjoy.

Marefair and the surrounding area has a fascinating and important history as the site of the once famous Northampton Castle, with archaeological excavation sites, historic local buildings such as the Old Black Lion Pub, Hazelrigg House, Castile Hill URC, St Peters Church and a former Saxon Palace.

West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) has secured £1.6 million from the Government’s Towns Fund towards the creation of this Heritage Park in Marefair and will deliver new green space, trees, play areas, heritage timeline poles, community gardens, pathways and lighting for everyone to enjoy.

Marefair provides the entrance into our town from the train station and we’re thrilled that planning permission has been granted. This is an important milestone in bringing forward a welcoming space for visitors and residents alike, this exciting project will provide really important open green space for the communities of Spring Boroughs to enjoy and understand more about the history of the town.

Cllr Dan Lister, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Town Centre Regeneration and Growth

Following planning permission being granted, works will now be underway to prepare for construction works to begin this summer.

Click here to find out more about the regeneration schemes which are taking shape across Northampton.

The second phase of engagement to redevelop the Greyfriars area in Northampton launches today. People across West Northamptonshire are being invited to view plans which have been shaped by feedback from the community following the initial engagement which launched in December 2023.

The proposals include redevelopment of the former Greyfriars bus station site, the Corn Exchange Building, Belgrave House, the Mayorhold Multistorey Car Park, the Victoria Street Car Park, and the areas known as the east and west islands.

Greyfriars is the largest brownfield opportunity within West Northamptonshire and represents a significant opportunity to deliver transformative change for the town. The site boasts a prime location at the heart of town, next to the ongoing transformation of the historic Market Square and redevelopment of the former Marks and Spencer’s and BHS units. The central location provides a unique opportunity to transform this part of the town centre and have a positive impact on the wider area.

Greyfriars will be a new vibrant neighbourhood within Northampton town centre, it will provide new homes for all and breathe life and energy into abandoned buildings. It will restitch forgotten connections and create new ones, amplifying the impact of nature and creativity throughout with Northampton’s first town park as its centrepiece.

During a first round of engagement held between December 2023 and January 2024, over 1,500 people shared their thoughts on the emerging vision to transform Greyfriars. The second phase of engagement reflects this feedback with a refreshed vision and set of proposals.

The vision seeks to deliver a mix of new homes including student, later living, cooperative living, build to rent and build to sell.  Over half of the respondents to the first round of engagement stated they would consider living here with the introduction of active travel, culture and a new park.

The online engagement launches Wednesday 8 May and will run through until Sunday 9 June. Visit ampnorthampton.com to view the emerging vision to amplify the area and have your say. In person event will take place at the Grosvenor Centre, Northampton on Saturday 1 June between 9am and 5pm.

Cllr Dan Lister, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Town Centre Regeneration and Growth at WNC, said: “We are delighted than more than 1,500 people responded to the first stage of engagement for the future plans for the Greyfriars site. We are taking an exciting step forward to further enhance our vision as we launch the second stage of our engagement and showcase our vision for the area, which has been shaped by the community during the first engagement which took place earlier this year.

“I would encourage everyone to come along to the in-person event to speak to our team of experts about the vision for this area and have their say to help shape the future of this part of Northampton.”

This area will be enhanced by a new Greyfriars park running along Lady’s Lane with an outdoor amphitheatre and pedestrian first landscape. A renewed Corn Exchange will act as a multi-use culture led hub that welcomes performance, classes and showcase; while the transformed Belgrave House will be transformed into a creative, cultural and community building that celebrates the thinkers and movers of Northampton. More than 70% of responses to the initial engagement expressed a need for a park, and cultural facilities in this area.

More than 100 people provided additional comments during the first engagement highlighting the need for improved bus services in the area. The existing bus station doesn’t allow for the growth of bus services to meet the growing demand. As part of this, WNC is exploring the opportunities to enhance Northgate bus station. This includes the extension of the station to allow for more capacity and the centralisation of buses, increasing the reliability of services and new waiting rooms and facilities to improve passenger experience.

The proposals have been crafted by a multi-disciplinary team led by Studio Egret West, who have been commissioned by West Northamptonshire Council to craft the vision for the area. This team comprises urban designers, architects, landscape architects, and transport, commercial and sustainability experts.

David West, Founding Director, Studio Egret West added: “Building upon the enthusiasm for and feedback on our initial proposals, we are excited to showcase our evolved vision to revamp Greyfriars. It is an energetic and transformational framework, curated to inject life back into this forgotten part of the town.”

A town centre workspace and creativity hub has been shortlisted for two prestigious local business awards.

Vulcan Works, which offers office space, coworking opportunities and business support from its base in Northampton’s Cultural Quarter, is a finalist in two categories of the SME Northamptonshire Business Awards which recognise industrious, hardworking and enterprising small and medium sized businesses.

The centre is up for the Business Innovation Award, which celebrates companies doing something new, different, smarter or better that will make a positive difference, and also shortlisted for the Positive Impact Award, which is looking for those who are innovating and adapting their business to not only thrive but benefit the wider community.

In the 12 months since it opened, the Vulcan Works team has supported countless start-ups and small businesses through workspace provision, events, workshops and partnerships with other organisation, including Barclays Bank.

Centre Manager at Vulcan Works, Garrick Hurter, said:

“We are absolutely delighted that Vulcan Works has been shortlisted for these awards and we are very proud of all that we have achieved in just a year.

“Vulcan Works has quickly established itself as a key part of the Northamptonshire business community and our customers, partners and local business support organisations have made the centre the thriving, bustling, exciting hub that we hoped it would be.”

Cllr Dan Lister, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Town Centre Regeneration and Growth, added:

“It is fantastic news that Vulcan Works has been shortlisted for two categories at the prestigious Northamptonshire SME awards. This truly reflects the hard work of all those involved in bringing this project to life, and all the continued dedication of our partners at Oxford Innovation to provide innovative business support to local SMEs.”

The SME Northamptonshire Business Awards take place on Thursday 2nd May at the Mercure Daventry Court Hotel.

Visitors to Northampton Town Centre can now access the revitalised paving at Market Square as the section connecting Abington Street to the Grosvenor Centre opened on Monday, 4 March.

The cobbles used as part of the transformation of Northampton’s historic market square have been retained from the previous paving where possible, and sympathetically restored to reuse as part of the regenerated space.

Councillor Daniel Lister, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Town Centre Regeneration and Growth at West Northamptonshire Council said:

“Visitors to Northampton Town Centre can now access the Grosvenor Centre from Abington Street alongside Market Walk as this section of completed paving at Market Square opens, which will help to provide increased connectivity to this part of the town.

“We are delighted that the existing cobbles have been restored and retained as part of the regeneration works, which provide a nod to the square’s history. Working closely with our partners Stepnell, it is great to see the project progress and reach important milestones such as this.”

Further progress has been made in February as the light columns for the site were installed and four of the permanent market stalls arrived and have been fitted. The remainder of the bespoke market stalls are due to arrive this month, which will be complemented by the semi-mature trees which will be planted.

The design, cladding and colours of the stalls compliment the surrounding rich heritage of Northampton’s Market Square. These stalls are a bespoke design with unique features, designed specifically for the needs of the Northampton Market traders. They are made of heavy-duty steel frames with robust cladding, which provides a sustainable and robust product.

To stay up to date with regeneration across Northampton visit the regeneration webpage.

The main construction works to redevelop Abington and Fish Street, Northampton kick-started on Monday, 26 February.

West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) is working with Kier to carry out vital works to enhance the appearance of Abington Street and Fish Street. Over the coming months they’ll be installing new paving and seating, additional trees and planting to boost the landscaping in the area.

Kier and WNC continue to liaise directly with businesses in the area to keep them up to date on the progress of works. As part of this, there will be a dedicated single point of contact for businesses throughout the project.

The redevelopment will complement the wider regeneration of the town centre, including the Market Square transformation, and provide enhanced connectivity with the rest of the town. Find out more about the regeneration projects currently underway in Northampton on WNC’s regeneration webpage.

 

Workers in high-viz jackets posing in front of construction work on Fish Street.

 

Cllr Dan Lister, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Town Centre Regeneration and Growth at WNC, said:

“We are delighted that the main construction works on this significant project to one of the busiest shopping streets in our area have begun.

“Essential preparation and investigatory works have taken place since September last year, however, people will now be able to see the main works taking shape.

“Once complete this winter, the revitalised area and enhanced features will offer a fantastic space for people to use and enjoy. We look forward to this taking shape in the coming weeks and months.”

 

Investigatory works were carried out in September to gain an understanding of all services connected through Abington and Fish Street, with preparatory works carried out in autumn last year.

 

Peter Ingram, contract director at Kier Transportation, added:

“We are pleased to begin the main construction works that will transform this shopping district and deliver substantial economic and social benefit for the people of Northampton and the wider West Northamptonshire area.

“We will be working together with West Northamptonshire Council on this vital project to ensure we leave a positive footprint in the area and bring new life to this town centre.”

Vulcan Works, a serviced workspace hub for start-up businesses in Northampton, has won an award for innovation at the Northamptonshire Business Excellence Awards (NBEAs).

West Northamptonshire Council and the Vulcan Works centre management team were jointly presented with the Innovation Award for the innovative but sympathetic renovation of derelict council buildings to create an incubation space for start-up businesses in the creative and digital industries – sectors that were identified in data as important, growing sectors in Northamptonshire.

The £14 million construction project was also a finalist in the Land and Development Award category, which recognises a construction project that has had a significant impact on the Northamptonshire community or economy.

Judges praised Vulcan Works, which opened in the Cultural Quarter area of Northampton in February.

Comedian Rob Beckett reiterated this when announcing Vulcan Works and West Northamptonshire Council as winners of the Innovation Award. He said: “The judges were blown away by what the winner has done to support both local businesses and the community. They have fostered innovation and at the same time proven they are very good at what they do.”

Centre Manager at Vulcan Works, Garrick Hurter, said: “We were over the moon to win the Innovation Award against such stiff competition from other well-deserving innovators in the county. To be finalists in the Land and Development category too was just fantastic.

“The Innovation Award means a lot to us especially, as we are always looking for innovative ways to help new and growing businesses to flourish. The concept of Vulcan Works is a brave and bold one that has already had such an impact on our local business community and we have plans to do so much more.”

Cllr Dan Lister, West Northamptonshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Town Centre Regeneration and Growth, added: “I was delighted to see Vulcan Works win the Innovation Award at the Northamptonshire Business Excellence Awards.

“West Northamptonshire has a high number of new businesses starting up every year, which need support to nurture and grow their business. This led to the innovative idea to create and deliver the Vulcan Works. The space provides a home for businesses, with on-site support to help them thrive. To see these derelict but characterful council properties transform into a busy ecosystem for start-ups is hugely rewarding.”

For more information on Vulcan Works, see vulcanworks.co.uk.

Chartered Building Contractor Steele and Bray Ltd, based in Northampton, have been appointed by West Northamptonshire Council to carry out the second phase of improvement works to 24 Guildhall Road.

NN Contemporary Art and West Northamptonshire Council are working in partnership to transform this historic building into a major new cultural centre in the heart of Northampton’s cultural quarter.

The £4.7 million project will see the five-storey heritage building transformed into a vibrant creative community, with a contemporary art gallery, affordable creative studios and public space.

Through extensive regeneration, the building is being brought to life to provide a gallery and artists spaces alongside cultural-commercial opportunities. The second phase of works started on site in October and consist of installing new heating and electrical systems, improvements to the expansive upper floors and detailed refurbishment to NNCA’s space.

Cllr Daniel Lister, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Town Centre Regeneration and Growth at WNC added: “We are delighted to be working with local based contractors Steele and Bray to carry out the second phase of work to deliver this ambitious project. Once open, 24 Guildhall Road will offer a unique cultural hub in the heart of the Cultural Quarter in Northampton, complementing the ongoing redevelopment of this part of town.

“Working in partnership with NN Contemporary Art and SEMLEP, we are able to combine our vision to regenerate this central building and offer a space for artists and entrepreneurs across our county and beyond. We look forward to continuing to offer local jobs as we enter into the second phase of redevelopment works, supporting our local economy.”

West Northamptonshire Council has confirmed that National regeneration developer, Cityheart has been announced as their preferred development partner to bring forward the Four Waterside and Marefair sites. Working in a joint venture partnership with West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) Cityheart will deliver a transformational and ambitious scheme for the town centre.

Situated at the entrance of the town from Northampton’s railway station, the Four Waterside and Marefair scheme is one of the largest brownfield developments in the county with two sites totalling five acres. Work is anticipated to start in 2025 to unlock this space, providing a new hotel, grade A office space for new and existing businesses, high-quality homes and improved paving and planting to elevate the area.

With nearly 20 years of experience, Cityheart works in partnership with councils across the country to rejuvenate towns and cities, including the £135 million Galleries town centre redevelopment in Wigan. This eight acre, highly sustainable mixed-use regeneration site providing a new market and hotel, high-quality homes, leisure venues, co-working space and events space.

This is Cityheart’s first appointment via the Pagabo National Framework Agreement for Developer Led schemes.

WNC has secured a £1.5 million grant from The Towns Fund and a further £7 million from the Northampton Waterside Enterprise Zone, to help deliver the project which will contribute to the wider transformation across the town. This funding will enable the development to be brought forward and have a significant impact on the local economy with a projected £130 million gross development value.

The Towns Fund is part of the Government’s plan for ‘Levelling Up’ the UK economy and the Council has secured £24.9 million to invest into transforming Northampton’s Town Centre.

Cllr Daniel Lister, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Town Centre Regeneration and Growth, said: “We are delighted to announce that we are working with Cityheart to deliver this significant development. Their expertise will be invaluable in transforming the two vacant brownfield sites and providing high-quality facilities to meet the needs of our local community and benefit our local economy.

“This area has stood empty for too long, and we are excited to now begin the relevant preparation before we start work in 2025. Once complete, this development has the potential to have a transformational impact upon Northampton town centre and beyond.”

Andrew Sanderson, development director of Cityheart added: “This superb site will open up the gateway to the town centre from the rail station and will be transformational for Northampton. It will deliver waterside residences and highly sustainable workspace, enhancing the living experience for people in the town centre. Cityheart is extremely proud to be appointed as preferred developer and we look forward to making a start on the project before the end of the year.”