Project to revitalise neglected town centre beauty spot wins national award

Posted 25th June 2023

Work to give a new lease of life to a forgotten green space in Northampton town centre has been recognised at a national awards ceremony, with judges praising the project’s impact.

St Katherine’s Gardens had become a magnet for crime and anti-social behaviour but has now gone from ‘grey to gorgeous’ thanks to a lottery-funded volunteer project as part of The Big Help Out to mark the King’s Coronation weekend.

The project, led by Northampton Town Centre Business Improvement District (BID) and supported by Northampton Town Council, was named the winner of the ‘Social and Community Contribution’ at the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM)Industry Awards.

BID operations manager Mark Mullen collected the award and said: “St Katherine’s Gardens has been transformed into an urban green space where shoppers and town centre workers can enjoy the summer sunshine.

“This was a fantastic project to be a part of and showed Northampton in a really positive light, with the town coming together to create something very special for the whole community to be proud of.

“The difference it has made already is incredible. It’s unrecognisable from just a few weeks ago. It’s bright, cheerful and you can see the smiles on peoples’ faces as they walk through. It’s a lovely place to be.”

The BID secured £10,000 of Lottery funding to help pay for the work, with multiple partners including groundworks firm Danaher and Walsh, landscapers idverde, builders merchants Travis Perkins, Zone Developments and Stepnell (the developers behind the ongoing Market Square works) donating their time and resources to help with the project.

A collaboration of volunteers from Northampton Town Council, the Royal British Legion, University of Northampton, Northampton College and local businesses joined forces to spruce up the area and clear litter as part of The Big Help Out – a national day of volunteering to mark the Coronation of King Charles III.

St Katherine’s Gardens is a green space in the centre of Northampton that was once the site of the 19th century church of St Katherine. It provides a walkway between the bus station and Horsemarket, and is neighboured by businesses on College Street, St Katherine’s Street and King Street.

The project saw benches and bins repurposed and upcycled following their removal from the Market Square. Railings and gates have been freshly painted while there are sections dedicated to Northampton Town Council’s Bloom campaign and the Climate Change Forum.

The theme for the space is influenced by the King’s passion for sustainability, biodiversity and the natural world. Volunteers have planted sustainable, perennial planters and a wild flower and grass bed, established flower beds have been pruned to encourage the growth of existing wild flowers and the whole site has given a bright and clean new look, with the addition of a stunning floral wellbeing mural, designed by Sarah Hodgkins and painted by college and university students.

Other highlights in the new-look gardens include poetry-based artwork by James McInerney that forms the basis of a trail for this year’s Northampton in Bloom campaign.

Northampton BID is project managed by pfbb UK (Partnerships for Better Business Ltd), who entered Northampton BID into the ATCM Awards.

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