At last! End is in sight for road closures around Sol Central in Northampton

Fingers crossed it's not too windy for plans to re-open Horsemarket and Mare Fair this weekend

By Kevin Nicholls
Friday, 21st February 2020, 10:45 am
Updated Friday, 21st February 2020, 10:46 am

Roads around Sol Central are finally set to re-open in Northampton town centre this weekend .. as long as it's not too windy.

Horsemarket and Mare Fair have been shut on safety grounds since Storm Ciara's 70mph gusts ripped off part of the roof at the leisure and entertainment complex on February 9.

Engineers struggled to repair the damage while strong winds made it dangerous to work six-storeys up.

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Mare Fair is likely to remain closed until the middle of next week

A Northamptonshire Highways spokesman said today (Friday February 21): "We are hoping to open a safe pedestrian walkway on Horsemarket by the end of today or first thing tomorrow morning, which will run from St Mary's Street junction down to St Peter's Way and back up.

"Mare Fair will remain closed to traffic while we continue to wait for a structural engineers report confirming Mare Fair and Horsemarket are safe. Once we have this, the road closures will be lifted.

"We hope this will be by the end of Sunday, but this is all weather-permitting.”

Horsemarket is part of the A508, the main north-south road through central Northampton.

Horsemarket has been closed since Storm Ciara struck on February 9

Business at Sol Central – which houses Vue cinema, Ibis Hotel, a gym, yoga studio and salon – have remained open.

But roads around the town centre were gridlocked as drivers struggled to find diversions with the carriageways shut between the Carlsberg roundabout and St Mary's Street. Bus passengers have faced delays of up to 40 minutes as Stagecoach sent 3,000 buses a week on different routes to and from North Gate.

A spokesman for Sol Central's owners, property investment firm Palace Capital, said: “We have confirmed there was no further damage to the Sol Northampton building caused by Storm Dennis last weekend and we have been continuously working to repair the Horsemarket and Mare Fair elevations.

"We are working collaboratively with Northants Highways and others to keep disruption to a minimum and we are doing everything we can to move quickly towards completion, while keeping public safety our main priority.

“As a precaution and to allow for the movement of heavy machinery, the road closures and security measures on Mare Fair and Horsemarket will remain in place.

"Provided the current weather conditions prevail and allow for the completion of necessary works, we anticipate that Horsemarket and the main entrance to Sol will be reopened by the weekend, with Mare Fair being re-opened from the middle of next week.

“We would like to thank the public for their ongoing patience and support.”