Daventry regeneration might not be ‘a priority’ for new unitary says councillor – as future of key town centre site is discussed

The district council wants to set a blueprint for the future regeneration of Daventry
The district council wants to set a blueprint for the future regeneration of Daventry

A town centre vision should be pushed through by Daventry District Council before it is abolished – as the councillor for regeneration feels like the successor council might not make it a ‘priority’.

And part of that vision could include a second look at how a key town centre site, previously earmarked for a retail park, could be regenerated.

The district council has a lifespan of less than two years, as it will be replaced by a new unitary council for West Northamptonshire in April 2021. It will see services in Daventry, South Northamptonshire and Northampton merged under one roof.

But the council is keen to push through a new town centre vision for 2020-35 before it is consigned to the history books, with the cabinet member for regeneration Councillor David James believing the new authority might not place as much importance on it as the current district council would.

At a recent scrutiny and improvement committee on July 16, Councillor Adam Brown asked whether consideration had been given as to whether it would be better to leave a vision document to the new authority.

But Councillor James said: “The risk with that is that Daventry might not be the priority for the new unitary. The temptation might be that they have Northampton to concentrate on and regenerate, and that will cost an awful lot of money, even if they do get the Future High Streets funding.”

With time running out for the district council, it has quickly passed a number of major schemes such as the Mulberry Place cinema, and a new home for Reach for Health.

But one site that remains up in the air is ‘site five’, which was previously earmarked for the Daventry Oaks retail park.

The partnership between the council and Henry Boots Development had included proposals for food stores, shops and a hotel on land at the Waterloo, Gasworks and Chaucer Way area, but the agreement between the two parties was scrapped in February this year. Henry Boots said the scheme had become ‘unviable’.

And Councillor James revealed that a new town centre vision document for 2020-35 will consider a ‘new brief’ for the site – though it may still include retail and leisure elements. He said: “There’s a danger with this site that one of the new supermarket chains might decide that they want an out of town site.

“The current town centre vision runs out in 2020, so maybe we might look at different ideas. The new vision for 2020-35 will consider a new brief altogether [for site 5] but is still likely to include retail and leisure elements.”

Council will discuss formally preparing work for the new town centre vision, and setting aside £75,000 to produce and consult on it, at Thursday’s full council meeting (July 25).

It will also discuss a motion from Labour councillor Ken Ritchie which calls for a citizens’ assembly to be formed to help feed the consultation, and for the council to engage ‘specialist agencies’ to help carry out the consultation.

The possible regeneration of the town centre has already been dealt a blow with the news that the district council had been unsuccessful in its bid to the Future High Streets fund.