Work begins on £2M Marina
10 Mar 2010
Article from Northampton Chronicle and Echo dated 10th March 2010.
Work has started on a multi-million pound marina development designed to breathe new life into Northampton and catapult the town into the top league of must-see inland boating destinations.
A special turf-cutting ceremony was held yesterday to mark the start of work on Northampton Marina, a £2 million project that has borne fruit thanks to joint work by four local agencies.
The scheme, which will create up to 14 jobs initially, will see Becket Park's disused boating lake beside the river turned into a state-of-the-art floating pontoon area capable of housing more than 80 boats.
It is the first phase of the wider Becket's Park Masterplan which, over the next 10 years, is projected to see the demolition of the old Avon HQ and other nearby buildings to provide 2,000 new homes and a business area, and the creation of riverside cafes and restaurants.
Tree felling and pruning started last month and work now begins to convert the lake, open it up to the River Nene and provide a marina manager's office. In all, this phase of the marina work is expected to take a year.
The agencies that have put up the cash - West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (WNDC), Northamptonshire County Council and the Environment Agency with help from Northamptonshire Enterprise Ltd - believe the key to the project's success is the marina being so close to Northampton town centre.
They say this will allow boaters to spend cash in the town's shops, pubs and restaurants and give local residents easy access to an attractive leisure area.
Councillor Richard Church, Northampton Borough Council's cabinet member for regeneration and development, told the Chron he did not believe the credit crunch would prevent the scheme being a success. He said: "The popularity of boating is increasing by 10 per cent a year. This is a long-term scheme." And chairman of WNDC John Markham said: "I come from near Warwick and all the marinas in that area are full. I am optimistic that the capacity here will be taken up."
The marina scheme will enable full use to be made of the River Nene's links to the Grand Union Canal.
Paul Woodcock, regional director of the Environment Agency, said: "Northampton Marina will place Northampton on the map as a major destination. Becket's Park is at the heart of two navigations - the River Nene and the Grand Union Canal - and is perfectly placed to attract visitors to the town. The development will really help transform the image of Northampton."
The mooring pontoons, which will rise and fall in line with the river's flow, will have all mod cons for boaters including electricity, water and even wi-fi access.
It is hoped that, in time, there will also be water taxis and pleasure boats for local people to use.
Pledge on flooding concerns
Assurances have been given that the marina work will not increase flooding danger on the River Nene in Northampton.
On Good Friday 1998, devastating floods hit the town, killing two people, putting 150 in hospital and ruining 2,000 homes and businesses. Since then major flood relief work has been undertaken in the town.
At the launch of the marina scheme yesterday, leaders of the £2m scheme pledged it would not compromise flood relief work.Marina project manager Paul Arnold said a special hydraulic model had been created to test flood scenarios with the marina scheme and a full flood risk assessment had been carried out. He said: ' I am satisfied it will not have a detrimental effect on water levels.'