Great News Not Only for the Cobblers.

Sixfields Development is essential to long-term stability of the Cobblers
Great News Not Only for the Cobblers.

First published 1198 days ago

The latest news that the Cobblers are close to signing a retail and commercial development contract which will bring much-needed and it has to be said a too long-delayed investment to the Sixfield area is excellent not only for the football club but also for the other outstanding issues.

It is one of the primary reasons why I and others fought so hard to bring the SEMLEP Waterside Enterprise Zone to Northampton, to provide for inward investment and employment opportunities in Northampton.

Most of all David Cardoza must be congratulated not only for his patience following the setback delivered in 2005 when the decision to develop the area was ‘called in’, but most of all for his continuing commitment to the Cobblers with no certainty that he and his board would ever receive permission to develop the stadium in order to provide a stable financial base for the club to go forward.

There will be some, and even some supporters who will view the announcement with some degree of cynicism, as an optimist it isn’t a view I share.

Quite the opposite, the announcement should be seen in its wider aspect and how the benefits it brings will not only be to the Football Club but also other sports clubs in Northampton.

The relocation of the athletics track has to be a priority and I hope the Borough Council will ring-fence any capital receipts they might receive from a Sixfield Development to provide a first class international standard athletics stadium to replace the one that has sadly been neglected.

In the Olympic year a commitment to delivering an athletic stadium providing first class training and competition facilities for the young people in Northampton would be warmly welcomed not the least by the schools athletics association and many volunteers who work so hard to encourage and support the town’s young athletes.

Most notably the development of Sixfield would also remove the barriers and open the way for the Saints – ASDA retail development allowing for the expansion of Franklin Gardens.

Please don’t anyone call for a review of the Sixfields Proposals.
Even the most optimistic of people however will be concerned that once the plans for the Cobblers – Sixfields expansion are revealed they may well be called in and subject to a Judicial Review by one of the major retailers, investment organisations or businesses in the town centre.

If such a challenge is made under the National Policy Planning Framework and the Governments ‘Town Centre First’ policy the whole project could well be in jeopardy and set the Club and Town back years.

I’m sure the Borough Council administration and leadership are fully aware of the need to avoid such a challenge and will as part of the consultation policy be talking to the Northampton Town Centre BID, Legal and General and other interested parties to seek a firm and categorical commitment that they will not mount a challenge to the Cobblers and Saints proposals accepting that it is in the best interest of Northampton for them to go ahead.

Let’s hope they will?