Northampton Town Centre

Northampton Town CentreWhat happened?

When we first moved here in 1995 we loved the place, were proud to have friends and family visit but not any more. 

Contributing to the demise is the continued under-investment from Legal & General in the Grosvenor Centre and ridiculous demands on tenants meaning we have lost some really good quality retailers from there. What kind of centre management loses House of Fraser? The Disney Store … cannot do a deal so that Ed’s Diner moves in? BHS went months ago, the building sits empty still a demonstration of what is typical for our town.

House of Fraser was replaced by Primark, we gained an upgrade on the store but we already had one in town. Ed’s Diner would have taken over from the Disney Store but Vision Express just moved along to do that. Two Seasons has moved to Rushden Lakes and who can blame them?

The council decided to open up Abington Street to traffic again, all it did was to totally kill off that end of town … unless someone is desperate for Sports Direct and Poundland. Other than that there are a couple of pawn shops. We have H&M but for how long? The store now looks out of place there.

At the entrance to the Grosvenor in Abington Street  we have Smokers Heaven … it is totally illegal to smoke there but, security must all be smokers as they do nothing about it. Likewise the doors on the upper level leading to Northampton House. Most often left open full of smokers belching their filth into the centre and, nothing is done. It’s like these people want to drive others away.

The Charity Collectors everywhere (chuggers). It’s unpleasant trying to avoid them, the hard sell young people who insist your life isn’t complete until you sign up for this or that. It doesn’t matter if shoppers are in mid conversation or on the phone, they will stop you, just plain rude!

But, on the plus side, they are some of the few who speak English in our English County Market Town. It’s possible to walk one end to the other without hearing English spoken at all, again, doesn’t encourage anyone to feel at home there.

The market … half a market and barely one at all at that. One stall often there sells drugs stuff, bongs and anything drug related, maybe not the drugs themselves but who knows? Great image of the town that gives. 

We have all the e-cigs and vape shops, the short lease units here today, gone tomorrow. Stores where the staff stand out at the entrance and wonder why they get no custom.

Abington St stinks of fags or we walk through a vape cloud of some sickly alternative to legal drug use. We have the drunks outside every pub, the teen mums smoking their roll up whilst pushing baby number 2 in the pram whilst on her phone, we’ve all seen them.

We get 2 hours free in some car parks yet, on others it costs the earth and someone can only stay for 3 hours! Over at the retail parks it is free as long as you can complete all your transactions in 3 hours and get out again else they land you with a huge fine.

All this makes me wonder, do they, any of them, value the concept of a shopping centre at all?

At the weekends it fills with party goers and, well, sadly many weekends ones of them doesn’t live to tell the tale! People still think New York is bad! We have more serious crime here per head of population than they have in New York!

My proposal? Get one large company to buy the entire site. Fill every empty unit with god quality bars and restaurants, have a policy of encouragement to retailers and shoppers alike, free parking all day every day or, a free park and ride service which works using the car parks at Sixfields.

Ban all forms of smoking during business house within 100 feet of any entrance door way and strictly enforce it. Provide smoking areas where they won’t affect others. Everyone said when smoking in pubs was banned the customers would leave, they didn’t, business actually increased because the vast majority of customers are not smokers.

Get rid of the tired 1950’s/60’s buildings and replace them with something contemporary. Enhance the historical buildings. Merge Market Walk with the Grosvenor or build over it.

No stores unless they take a two year minimum lease. Move all charity and Poundshops into their own sector and call it Bargain Land. Perhaps around the market or, indeed, convert Market Walk.

This won’t happen of course, we have a council in #Northampton Borough Council who won’t change, won’t bring in investment.

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