Northampton Town Centre Watchdog

CASTELLO FORTIOR CONCORDIA

Concerns

2016

PEOPLE’S ALLERGY TO THE TOWN CENTRE
For those of us who try to promote the merits of OUR Town Centre, it is dispiriting to hear the overwhelming antagonism to it. The social groups with a higher disposable income see the Town Centre as a ghetto for the poor by day and the drunk by night. They continue to brag that “they never go into town”!!  It is essential that this state of affairs is changed.

VEHICLE ENTRY AND EXIT-- TO AND FROM GEORGE ROW
The public needs greater clarification and to be better informed that vehicle entry is via:

  • The Guildhall.
  • Gold Street (structural alterations to facilitate this are urgently needed). Currently entry is only via Marefair!! ---- what % of the town’s population know this??
  • Bridge Street.

CAR PARKING CHARGES AND “PAY ON EXIT”
The current “pay and display” method is second best and very unhelpful in attracting cars into the centre. People pay, over-stay, and are then effectively punished for coming into the Centre!! – this is not an intelligent thing to do.

If there is a persistence with having parking charges, “Pay on exit” is therefore essential!!!

It is well recorded and indeed acknowledged by the current NBC administration that when charges are reduced or removed, it leads to an increase in car parking. This happens even when the offers are totally random, and that only a minority know about them.

As another option, how about charging:

  • 1 from 8am till 2pm.
  • 1 from 2pm till 8pm.
  • 1 from 8pm till 8am.

This offer should be available EVERY day of the week in ALL council car parks as a pilot for a 6 month period, and the results assessed.

SHOP FRONTS AND FASCIAS
Ugly shop fronts and fascias vandalise a town.

Byelaws need to be created to resolve this growing problem.

If the whole town centre (as per our definition) was designated a conservation area, would this make the introduction of byelaws easier??

Perhaps these bye-laws could be enforced whenever a property lease changes hands.

There currently seems to be no political will to address this problem which means that we continue to see the bar lowered.

THE GROSVENOR EXTENSION
Will it happen? And if it does happen, what will be the anchor stores that attract people into the town centre?

THE NEW BUS INTERCHANGE
Will the design of this building be something we will be proud of in 50 years, and will it be fit for purpose? We will learn a lot about this new facility over the first 24 months of operation.

ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOUR
It is desperately important that the town centre sheds its reputation for being like the “wild west”. Personal security is a priority issue for most normal people. This is a police function that needs to be performed formally, politely but uncompromisingly. Not by matey-matey appeasement!

DEVELOPMENT ON SURFACE CAR PARKS
It defies belief that the authorities have allowed development on yet more surface car parks.

Please read the “disasters” page.

There are also plans to build on Albion Street car park, The  Plough Hotel car park, AND the one in Angel Street.

If there is a plan to build on ALL the surface car parks, we are left with the burning question as to where in hell’s name customers will be able to park their cars!! --- bearing in mind that the town is set to expand from 200,000 to 300,000 !!

THE RESTORATION OF THE ANGEL (FAT CATS)
It is essential that this valuable part of our townscape is restored to its full grade 2 listed status, and that corners are not cut and that standards are not lowered.

THE FATE OF THE ABINGTON STREET LIBRARY
There was talk about developing this area into further retail space. This makes no sense, when the existing retail space is finding it difficult to survive. It is essential to retain the library at this location, and that its operation shouldn’t be dumbed down.

VACANT SHOPS
It was reported by The Chron that the number of vacant shops in each August were as follows:

  • 2009 ----76
  • 2010 ----76.
  • 2011 ----69.
  • 2012 --- 68. (15% of 465 shops)
  • 2013 --- 77. ( 17% of 464 shops)
  • 2014 ---- 77.
  • 2015 ----83

Watchdog has no stats from other towns, but is inclined to believe that we are currently healthier than many other town centres across the UK.

There is of course a fear that there could be a spate of closures, once current leases have expired. There is no doubt that internet shopping is making life very difficult in the high street.

THE OPENING OF RUSHDEN LAKES
The imminent opening of this facility, with a great retail offer and acres of free parking, will expose even further, the shortcomings of Northampton Town Centre.

We can only “point the finger” at inadequate leadership, however well intentioned.

 

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