New plants inject splash of colour to town centre beauty spot in Northampton

Posted 23rd April 2024

A forgotten green space in Northampton town centre restored to its former glory thanks to a lottery-funded volunteer project has been given a fresh new look ahead of the summer.

Northampton Town Centre Business Improvement District (BID) last year secured £10,000 of Lottery funding to pay for the work in St Katherine’s Gardens. Initial work involved the creation of new planters, bins and seating areas while eye-catching murals were painted on the walls. Plants used in the initial work were funded by Northampton Town Council.

The second phase of work began this week and saw new shrubs, flowers and trees planted to give the park a fresh new look. Further work will see the addition of three new benches and two new murals, to be completed by students at Northampton College.

Northampton BID partnered with Northampton Town Council and volunteers from the Royal British Legion and Workbridge to stage the planting day, which saw a mix of evergreen and deciduous shrubs and herbaceous perennials added to three separate areas, including the RBL memorial garden.

All plants were selected by the team at Workbridge, led by Liz Wing and Clare Robertson-Marriott, a volunteer from the town council’s Climate Change Forum.

They were chosen for their year-round structure, texture, colour and for their role in providing habitat and food for insects and birds – helping to boost the future sustainability of the area as part of efforts to combat climate change.

Mark Mullen, operations manager for Northampton BID, said: “The ongoing work to transform St Katherine’s Gardens has been a resounding success, helping to bring back an unloved corner of our town into a vibrant and welcoming place for everyone to enjoy.

“This planting further enhances the environmental credentials and we are grateful to all the volunteers who came along to help out. We’re looking forward to continuing our work in St Katherine’s gardens this year, with more murals planned and further projects with students from Northampton College.

“We appreciate the support we have received from Stepnell, the main contractors of the Market Square redevelopment works, and we are currently in discussions with Kier – who are responsible for the work in Abington Street and Fish Street, about doing something similar to revitalise St Giles churchyard.”

St Katherine’s Gardens 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.

All volunteers were treated to lunch at the neighbouring Northampton Town Centre Hotel.

Cllr Andrew Stevens, Chair of Northampton Town Council’s Environmental Services Committee and Climate Change Forum, said: “The volunteers have worked really hard to research, source and plant an abundant range of perennial shrubs and flowers that will give all year-round colour and provide a habitat and food for birds and insects.

“Given the threat of climate change, it is important to restore habitat loss and urban areas such as public gardens provide great opportunities for planting. Urban planting also helps to mitigate air pollution and creates pleasant green spaces for those who may not have easy access to countryside.

“The town council and its Climate Change Forum volunteers are committed to tackling climate change through small steps such as supporting this project. St Katherine’s Gardens is now a more varied green space, much improved for both people and nature, and within only a few minutes’ walk from the Market Square.”

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