Plans for a new £33m marina at Wellingborough's embankment have been drawn up and can be shown for the first time.
Riverside accommodation, 48 hour moorings for narrowboats and cruisers, a new hotel and river taxis linking the town to nearby Rushden Lakes are all part of the high-level concept which has been put together by a consortium that includes the town’s chamber of commerce, the town centre partnership and the River Nene Regional Park CIC.
A feasibility study for the scheme has been drawn up after Wellingborough Council awarded the Nene Valley Catchment Partnership a £15,000 grant last year to look at potential projects for the waterside area.
After looking at the possibilities a scheme that would transform the town’s embankment area has been devised.
Simon Toseland, who is president of the Wellingborough Chamber of Commerce, has been heavily involved in the proposal and will be going out to investors to try to bring in funding to help make the development happen.
He said: “I’m optimistic that, after a cautious initial response from the council, it seems that it does now generally support our proposals to progress plans to develop a new marina and complimentary commercial and residential uses to support the viability of this very exciting project. We are of course very well acquainted with the planning consultation process around projects of this size and impact.”
The proposal is on an area of local open space which is currently used as playing fields. The land is part owned by Whitworths, Wellingborough School and Bovis Homes.
The scheme is at the early stages and a planning application has not been submitted. It is estimated it would take between five to 10 years to come to fruition if granted planning permission.
Chief executive of River Nene Regional Park CIC Kathryn Hardcastle said: “The marina is just one element of the overall vision that came out of the efforts of the Wellingborough Waterside Working Group that includes several other initiatives including improved access and amenity and improvements in ecological status and enhanced protection for the environment. It is, however, a very exciting proposal that brings with it the potential to unlock investment in the environment.”
Council leader Martin Griffiths said: “I’m encouraged for the plans to be put into the public domain as I would like to know what people think of it. It would be a lovely thing to do.”
The authority’s planning officers have however highlighted a number of drawbacks to the scheme including flood risk issues, the loss of open space and vehicle access to the site.
A council spokesman said: “The Nene Valley Catchment Partnership formed a working group focused on the Wellingborough Waterside to identify projects to improve the commercial, recreational, aesthetic and environmental status of this area.
“The council awarded £15,000 to the River Nene Regional Park as the overarching body for the Nene Valley Catchment Partnership.
“This was a contribution towards a wider project aim to develop an outline plan for the Wellingborough waterside, community engagement and to cover the costs of relevant surveys and searches.
“The funding was allocated from the council’s allotted funds for projects benefiting the voluntary, community and not-for-profit sector.
“The council is aware of proposals to develop and enhance the embankment area and is generally supportive of these proposals, however there are a number of external agencies such as the Environment Agency and Natural England whose input into these proposals will determine their acceptability. Mr Toseland has been advised to contact these external agencies as the next stage in the development process.
“Following a series of member workshops, when various proposals including this one were discussed, Council approved the Annual Business Plan 2019-20 on the 2 April and this project is not one of the agreed priorities. The council has to date provided informal advice when possible to the developer and will welcome an application for pre-application planning advice in due course.”