Northampton Central Area Action Plan 2013

Chapter 3: Policy Context, Northampton Central Area Vision and Objectives

3.1 Northampton’s Central Area needs to respond to the challenges of additional growth in Northamptonshire in the period to 2026. In order to do this the CAAP sets out a shared vision to meet these requirements in a sustainable manner. The vision is underpinned by a series of strategic objectives, which are set out in this section. The individual policies, contained within subsequent chapters, set out how the vision and strategic objectives will be translated into
a clear framework direction for implementing development proposals.

3.2 The National Planning Policy Framework[1] (NPFF) makes clear the presumption in favour of sustainable development; these principles are carried forward at the local level through this Area Action Plan. The policies contained in this Plan follow the approach of the presumption in favour of sustainable development.

3.3 When considering development proposals the Council will take a positive approach that reflects the presumption in favour of sustainable development contained in the National Planning Policy Framework. It will always work proactively with applicants jointly to find solutions which mean that proposals for sustainable
development will be approved and to secure development that improves the economic, social and environmental conditions in the area. Planning applications that accord with the policies in this Local Plan (and, where
relevant, with policies in other local plans and neighbourhood plans) will be approved without delay, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. Where there are no policies relevant to the application or relevant
policies are out of date at the time of making the decision then the Council will grant permission unless material considerations indicate otherwise - taking into account whether:

• Any adverse impacts of granting permission would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the National Planning Policy Framework taken as a whole; or

• Specific policies in that Framework indicate that development should be restricted.

PRESUMPTION IN FAVOUR OF Sustainable Development Policy


When considering development proposals within the Central Area, the Council will take a positive approach that reflects presumption in favour of sustainable development.

The Council will always work positively with applicants jointly to find solutions which mean that development proposals can be approved wherever possible, and to secure development that improves the economic, social and environmental conditions of Northampton Central Area and the wider Borough.

 3.4 The East Midlands Regional Plan (March 2009) sets out a clear policy direction for Northampton Central Area for development and investment up to 2026. The CAAP was prepared to be in general conformity with the policy direction and requirements outlined in the Regional Plan, in particular recognising the need for urban concentration with a focus on regeneration for existing urban areas.

3.5 Through provisions in the Localism Act 2011 Government has outlined its intention to revoke the Regional Plan.

1. Department for Communities and Local Government, National Planning Policy Framework (2012) [back]

3.6 The West Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy was submitted to the Secretary of State for Examination in
January 2013. It sets out the critical role that Northampton town centre will have in being an integral part of ensuring that Northampton and West Northamptonshire are regarded as a place that people want to be to live, work and for leisure. Its Vision states: “Northampton as the principal urban area will be a beacon of high quality urban design with outstanding public realm. It will successfully blend its distinctive historic character with innovative new development both of which will enhance its riverside setting. It will enhance its role as the leading
retail, entertainment, employment, health and learning centre, based upon a thriving economy and the services it offers, with continuing pride in its theatres, museums and professional sports teams”.

3.7 It also states that “….Northampton Town Centre has suffered from the decentralisation of retailing activities. The strength of the town’s outer retail parks and Weston Favell District Centre provide strong competition for spending on comparison goods displacing spending from the town centre. Similarly for convenience spending
research identifies that four large out-of-town centre superstores dominate this area of retailing with convenience retailing within the town centre under-represented. Northampton needs to deliver a step change in its retailing performance and attractiveness as a higher order comparison shopping destination.”

3.8 It identifies that: “Northampton town centre has suffered greatly from a decentralisation of retail, leisure and
employment uses; and the improvement of retail offer in neighbouring centres such as Milton Keynes. There is a need to address this as a critical strategic issue for the Joint Core Strategy to ensure that the vision for Northampton is not jeopardised. Policy S2 seeks to focus new town centre development fi rmly back to Northampton town centre and the Central Area and Policy S9 seeks to focus retail development of the town centre.” (para 5.17)

3.9 Consistent with government policy, the Action Plan will be a key part in meeting the aims of Northamptonshire Sustainable Community Strategy:

• Being successful through sustainable growth and regeneration

• Developing a growing economy

• To have safe and strong communities

• To have healthy people with a good quality of life





By 2026, Northampton Town Centre will be firmly established as the economic and cultural centre for Northamptonshire. It will be the destination of choice for people within the County and beyond to live, work and relax. The Town Centre will be using its strengths, in particular its architectural heritage, its riverside, a distinctive retail offer and its cultural offer as a key to its success.

The Town Centre will have developed:

• A distinctive retail offer that combines the best in major high street names in an extended Grosvenor Centre with
niche and specialist retail and leisure in Northampton’s traditional streets and Market Square

• A new rail facility at Castle Station with a key employment area providing a high quality gateway to the town,  supporting the regeneration of neighbouring sites including Spring Boroughs

• A lively St John’s Quarter providing a centre for arts and culture alongside a base for public services and employment

• A new focus on the Waterside enhancing a long neglected asset as a new destination for employment, living and
leisure with a new marina at its heart

• Facilities equal to or better than the best European towns of a similar size


                                             STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES

To meet the Vision for Northampton Town Centre the Council will seek to ensure that development
proposals are consistent with ensuring that the following Strategic Objectives are delivered:

•  SO1 - Regeneration: Expanding retail, town centre facilities and the scale of employment
opportunities in the centre to match Northampton’s future role as a Principal Urban Area at the
heart of its sub-region, maximising the use of previously developed land

•  SO2 - A well designed Town Centre: Ensuring development of the highest standard that refl ects
the rich architectural heritage assets, while contributing to the rich architectural heritage and
adding to the sense of place

•  SO3 - A destination of choice: Revitalising the Market Square at the heart of the Town Centre
and create and develop cultural initiatives based around St John’s and the Derngate Theatre area

•  SO4 - A walkable centre: Making the Central Area pedestrian friendly and ‘walkable’, with an
improved public realm and linkages between key destinations

•  SO5 - Public transport and cycling: Ensuring good public transport and cycle accessibility

•  SO6 - A Safer Environment: Providing an appealing and safe environment within the urban
framework and along the Waterside

•  SO7 - Repopulate the Central Area: Substantially increasing the resident population through the
redevelopment of redundant industrial areas and the regeneration of Spring Boroughs

•  SO8 - Sustainability: Ensuring the Central Area develops in a sustainable manner and helps
create a positive framework for action on climate change


3.10 Translating the vision and the strategic objectives into action through the CAAP will reposition Northampton
as the cultural heart and key economic driver of Northamptonshire. Its role as the leading retail, employment, entertainment, health and learning centre based upon a thriving mixed economy including services will be enhanced. It would ensure that all communities have equal opportunities and access to the town centre.