Work will begin on the Barwell Stand immediately after the end of the current campaign, with the seating and control room expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2015/16 Aviva Premiership season and the hospitality boxes and Sturtridge Suite open in December 2015.
The £6 million development will complete the stadium bowl and increase capacity to approximately 15,500 with state-of-the-art amenities that will maintain Franklin’s Gardens’ place as the best dedicated rugby facility in the country.
Buckingham Group, which has its head office near Silverstone, has a strong track record of building world class sports facilities, including the Silverstone Wing, the Copper Box (made famous during the London 2012 Olympic Games), stadiumMK and the Amex Stadium in Brighton, both of which will be used during Rugby World Cup 2015.
Saints chairman Tony Hewitt said that Buckingham Group was a natural choice for the club’s management.
“Buckingham Group has built some outstanding sports stadiums in the UK, and we are confident that they will do the same here at Franklin’s Gardens and ensure that the Barwell Stand is something that we can be proud of,” he commented.
“They are a local firm and have been very positive during our negotiations. We are looking forward to working with them closely over the coming months to ensure that the project remains on schedule and built to the highest standards.”
Enabling works were undertaken in the summer of 2014 to help ensure that the development would remain on time during what will be a tight building schedule. These included a geotechnical investigation, relocating the stadium’s electricity sub-station, and removing the Shrubbery, including the planting of two new trees to replace those which have been lost.
Designed by Peter Haddon Partners – who also designed the current three stands at Franklin’s Gardens – the Barwell Stand will replace the Sturtridge Pavilion at the north end of the stadium, a building whose original sections have stood for nearly 50 years and has been expanded half-a-dozen times since. Peter Haddon Partners will be novated to Buckingham Group, who will be the design and build contractors.
“We are absolutely delighted to have been selected for this highly prestigious project,” said Buckingham Group chairman, Paul Wheeler. “This opportunity to work with Northampton Saints to deliver the new Barwell Stand is a real accolade for Buckingham Group and will rank alongside the most pre-eminent stadium schemes we’ve previously undertaken.
“We will be endeavouring to emulate the Saints’ on-pitch performances with our own performance on-site.”
With around 1,900 seats that will be wider than those elsewhere in the stadium, the Barwell Stand will also include an increased hospitality suite seating up to 270 people, 12 executive boxes and a ground floor members’ bar approximately 50 percent bigger than the current bar.
There will also be improved disabled facilities, with viewing positions on three levels, two big screens in the north-east and south-west corners, and the war memorial will be moved into a new location within the stadium grounds.