Investing in the Future
I’ve just replaced two of the tyres on my car. It wasn’t cheap, nor it wasn’t something I’d prefer to spend money on but, to keep the vehicle safe and roadworthy, I was prepared to make the investment. Every day, similar investment decisions are made by families and businesses across the country. They know that if they don’t invest in their assets they start to deteriorate and soon need to be replaced.
The same investment decisions also face our towns and cities. In Northampton, the railway station has seen better days. Tired, outdated and over-capacity, it no longer provides passengers with a quality environment, nor does it provide visitors with a positive initial impression of the town. And so, although it’s not cheap, and we’d rather not pay, there comes a time when we have to invest in a better facility. A safe and modern facility that can cope with both the current level of usage and forecast increased demand, and provides a fitting gateway for visitors.
Here at WNDC, we’ve been promoting the redevelopment of Castle Station for a number of years. The recent announcement that a funding package had been put together is the culmination of a lot of effort from the Corporation and its partners. It also shows lot of vision from Ministers, who were prepared to invest even in a time of austerity.
What they’ve recognised, is that Northampton is a key economic growth location. It’s strategically positioned between London/the South East and the East/West Midlands, and acknowledged by the commercial market as potentially one of the leading regional office locations in the UK. With this in mind, it’s worth remembering that the new Station is itself just the first step. Work on a funding package for a new multi-storey car park on the site is well-advanced. This will help unlock a comprehensive redevelopment, which will create a 21st century business and communications hub, with the potential to directly release 30,000 sq m of commercial floor space, creating up to 1,500 jobs.
The investment also has to be seen in the context of the wider redevelopment of Northampton town centre and its Enterprise Zone. The Station is just one of six projects WNDC will be bringing forward for development by March 2014 – including the proposed Innovation Centre on the St. Peter’s Waterside, directly opposite the new Station. Together these projects will transform Northampton into one of the region’s top locations to live, work and play.