Destination: Waterside

Waterside will be a vibrant campus that is supportive, innovative and inspirational - pioneering research and stimulating growth within Northampton and the region.

  • Low carbon and BREEAM Excellent
  • 24/7 and 4 seasons
  • Pedagogically innovative
  • Capable of expansion
  • Community focused - pedestrian first
  • Supportive of the informal, formal and ceremonial.

Students joining or returning to the University of Northampton in September 2018 will be the first to experience student life at the brand-new Waterside Campus. A few minutes’ walk from Northampton town centre, the campus on the banks of the River Nene will create a lively leisure, social and retail area for our students to live and learn.

The Waterside Campus has been designed to give each student a personalised University experience according to how they prefer to learn. With on-site accommodation for first-year students including townhouses and en-suite rooms, our student community will also have access to a Students’ Union with pastoral support, social spaces, cafes and restaurants, a convenience store, health centre, bank and a multi-faith centre.


Location: Waterside


By car, Waterside is easily accessible adjoining the A45 via the A428, providing access to J15 of the M1 within 10 minutes.

Waterside is within the heart of Northampton, with Northampton Railway Station and the central Bus Station both being within walking distance.

Northampton’s retail core is also within walking distance, including the recently refurbished Grosvenor Shopping Centre.

Whilst being centrally located, the site also benefits from being surrounded by parkland, Midsummer Meadow and Becketts Park. The northern perimeter fronts the River Nene, providing a prime location for a potential new food and retail destination. The southern perimeter of the site fronts Delapre Park and Lake giving the opportunity to connect to the historic setting of Delapre Abbey. This also enhances the prospect of leisure activity both within and around the site.

Waterside Development Context


The development at Waterside will be complemented by the residential development to the south as it will enhance the vibrancy of Waterside by adding to the critical mass already created. The site is owned by the HCA, and is being developed by Kier to provide approximately 430 residential units.


Northampton Waterside Enterprise Zone

The site has the benefit of being situated within a designated Enterprise Zone which provides occupiers with a business rates discount, superfast broadband and a simplified planning process in order to encourage swift development and significant investment into infrastructure.

The zone covers a vast area around the town centre, which will encourage further development to complement 

 ‘The Big Six’ already in progress. The context of the Waterside Campus will therefore be drastically improved over the coming years; the proposed access routes and sustainable linkages into the town centre will ensure that the benefits of this are maximised for the residents of Waterside, and other occupiers of the Enterprise Zone.

Whilst a University is not a typical Enterprise Zone use, the University of Northampton has a long history in vocational degrees, research and development and apprenticeships which will be mutually beneficial for the majority of occupiers. More on the Enterprise zone.


Waterside Campus Masterplan

Waterside Campus


The University currently occupies two out of town campuses, and is proposing their amalgamation of academic provision at a central location,  Waterside. Through doing so, the University is aiming to achieve:

  • The development of a integrated urban campus
  • National and international recognition
  • Financial success and greater independence.

The University is also aiming to create a vibrant new commercial and leisure district alongside its campus, with Avon Cosmetics Ltd’s European HQ already being on site.


Currently At Waterside


Design and massing precedent has been set at Waterside by the development of the Avon Cosmetics Ltd European HQ which occupies a prominent gateway position on site.

The Avon building is a steel frame, five-storey modern office building, situated at a gateway position on site, built in 2009.

Other Development Opportunities At Waterside

It is the University’s aspiration that other commercial occupiers including office, retail and leisure uses will be developed at Waterside alongside the University facilities and student accommodation elements. It is the University’s ambition to create a community area that allows all residents to be able to share open spaces and facilities to create a vibrant hub of activity, both during the day and evening.

The zone covers a vast area around the town centre, which will encourage further development to complement others already in progress. The context of the Waterside Campus will therefore be drastically improved over the coming years, and the proposed access routes and sustainable linkages into the town centre will ensure that the benefits of this are maximised for the residents of Waterside, and other occupiers of the Enterprise Zone.

An initial master plan indicates that the following will be provided at Waterside:

  • commercial space
  • retail, restaurant and bar space
  • leisure space
  • hotel
  • University facilities with an additional expansion space for the University
  • student residences
  • 750 parking spaces, for staff and disabled students only.



The Borough Council supports the principles of the University relocating to Waterside and has also seen the emerging design for the Waterside Campus and fully supports it. The Northampton Central Area Action Plan specifically addresses the need to increase the presence of the University and other improvements to increase the educational provision within the Central Area.

An outline planning application was submitted and approved in 2013 for the University element of the development. The application was submitted in outline to allow any proposals from third party commercial and/or leisure occupiers sufficient flexibility in their approach.

About The Waterside Site



Historically, Avon Cosmetics Ltd owned c.33 acres of the site, and Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon (TWP) owned the other c.25 acres, with the central access road that divides the two plots being held by an unknown owner.

In 2012, the University of Northampton entered into negotiations with TWP and Avon regarding the acquisition of the entire 57.65 acres and conditional contracts have been agreed.

A recommendation was put forward to the Secretary of State to pursue a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) in relation to the strip of land with unknown ownership, which will provide the access into the site. This was granted in 2013. 

The Brackmills Railway Line bounds the site to the south, and used to be under Network Rail’s ownership. On 26th October 2012, Network Rail gave notice of its intention to dispose of part of the line to WNDC and this purchase in currently being finalised. It is proposed that there will be a conversion by either WNDC, or the Local Authority for the lines use as a sustainable transport green corridor such as a guided bus route or a cycle path/walkway.

The University has entered into a partnership arrangement with the landowners (Avon Cosmetics, Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey) and WNDC to bring forward proposals for this site. The landowners have already submitted a planning application for residential and commercial development of the site in the event that the University scheme does not come forward.

Site Condition And Flood Risk Mitigation

The site comprises largely derelict former industrial land, and includes the remains of the former Nunn Mills power station.

The Upton Flood Attenuation was completed in 2008 which protects Northampton against the flood risk associated with the River Nene. There are several elements to the scheme including road bridges and river embankments. Key features include a series of flood walls along the river, which create an area that can hold 

up to 1.2 million cubic metres of water. Customised floodgates control the water flow back into the river. Furthermore, the Cross Valley Link Road has been constructed in a way that complements and contributes to the flood defence measures.

There is also a Grade II* Listed Engine shed to the north of the railway line.