An historic building on The Racecourse in Northampton could receive a new lease of life thanks to creative students from the town’s University.
The white-rendered building, which dates back to the early 19th Century and was used as an armoury during the Second World War, currently stores equipment used for the park’s upkeep.
But it is now being earmarked as an ideal building to be converted into a community facility, and plans for its redevelopment could be included in the Semilong and Trinity Neighbourhood Plan.
The Plan is intended to provide a community-led framework to guide future development in the area and help tackle associated social, economic and environmental issues. Projects included in the Plan have an enhanced chance of receiving funding from various sources, including community payments from developers building new homes in the area.
Cllr Jane Birch, who is ward councillor for the area and sits on Northampton Borough Council’s planning committee, is one of many local people with an interest in the Racecourse who supports the redevelopment of the building.
She tasked students on the University of Northampton’s Interior Architecture and Spatial Design course to come up with concepts for it.
Ten undergraduates rose to the challenge, and came up with a variety of alternative uses for the building, including a submerged theatre with outdoor stage; a community kitchen and ecology centre; a drug rehabilitation centre; an educational wildlife centre and a venue for art and wood workshops.
The students presented their concepts to members of the Trinity and Semilong Forum group, Friends of Northampton Racecourse and the public at an event held on Thursday 27 February.
Cllr Birch said: “The students came up with some amazing proposals and it was great to see the possibilities for the building. Each of the projects were designed to be life enhancing and enriching, which is absolutely right for the people who live in the area.
“I’m so excited by the concepts and the presentations were a hit with the audience, and there’s now a real appetite to see the building repurposed for the community.
“While it might be a long way off, I am hopeful that when the time is right, and the funding is there, there will be every chance this building could become a hub for the community – and the students’ work has given us a vision of what an amazing place it could be.”
Cllr Birch added: “I’d also like to thank Senior Lecturer, Sue Jacobs, and the rest of the team who had a huge input and managed the student project and the presentation in a most professional way.”
Student Kamalini Aiyampillai, who came up with a concept called Nest that incorporates a community creative hub and tree viewing gallery, said: “I really enjoyed the whole process of researching the area and connecting it directly with the design proposal.
“We all worked really hard and intensely on our projects and we came up with a variety of potential functions for the Racecourse building. So, if any of us have our concepts chosen and they one day become fully realised, it will be an amazing honour.”
The other students who took part were Rebecca Hannington, George Whinfrey, Katie Hellewell, Madeline Gladwell, Adele Daws, Alena Raschke, Daisy Couper, Karla Spahic and Almas Meghani.