Sunday, 23 November 2014

Rabbit Hutch, anyone?

News that a developer has acquired the rights to develop Rockingham Road have left me a little conflicted.  In a perfect world of back-to-back Rollover Euro-lottery wins we would be heading back to our true home, with 21st Century facilities under construction due for completion for the first game of next season.  This coinciding with an audit at Conference HQ which shows we should never have been relegated in the first place, restoring us to the top flight of Non-League football.  Oh, and while we're shooting for the moon, Rachel Riley suddenly can't get enough of chubby middle aged Poppies bloggers.

Now with Rockingham Road finally out of reach we can at least draw a reluctant line under our pursuit of our former home and concentrate on moving forward as a club.

What we should do though, is spare a thought for the poor developer, suddenly owning this prime, but quite small pot of land.  They are going to be trying to squeeze 56 properties onto this site.  That may not sound an overly large number,  but when you consider the number of private houses on Britannia Road and Cowper Street that directly face the ground is only 17, you suddenly wonder how on earth they expect to fit 56 such properties on such a small site?

Except, they won't be putting comparable properties on the site.  Whereas the surrounding streets are predominantly sturdily brick built 3-4 bedroom houses, mostly detatched, and mostly with front and rear gardens, can anyone imagine these new dwellings being anything more that the usual rabbit hutches with not quite enough parking?  We've all seen these new houses go up, haven't we?  A wooden frame supporting a bare layer of breeze blocks and insulating fabric, and finished off with a layer of "decorative" brickwork. 

I wonder about these sort of houses, and the current state of the house-building trade.  Look at the enormous amount of Victorian dwellings in this town and you will see houses that have stood for 120+ years and could easily see them stand for another 120.  Even the meanest Victorian terraced house has design flourishes, large rooms and incredibly solid construction. 

Builders of more than a century ago really knew their jobs.  Compare this to the houses our present-day builders "knock-up".  Plaster board walls, tiny rooms, and the neighbour's TV heard throughout the house.  Oh, and given the number of times you see scaffolding around newish buildings, a bit of re-working after about 5 years.  And that is for the expensive homes.  Imagine what the "affordable" element of the 56 houses at Rocky Road will be like!

Mind you, before any of this building happens the site will need to be cleared.  Not a 5 minutes job!  Access needs to be forged, taking up precious space.  Presumably where the pitch has been built up and levelled will need to be taken away and the hill restored?  The enormous, stately trees on Rockingham Road will need to be safely felled?  The right of way between Cowper Street and the Rock and Bowl will need to be preserved?  The R&B will also need to be maintained, as much as the developers would dearly love to either build on it, or at the very least, park their trucks, tools and portaloos on there?

One assumes the local residents will be keeping the beadiest of beady eyes on what goes on.  The first sign of the developers trying to foist some additional flats, or further builds onto the site will rightly have them up in arms. 

And then, after the builders have finished and moved on, and the first sets of "challenging" housing association families have taken up their rental residence, there is the small matter of the roughly-hewn roads and pavements remaining crappy for years as the council take their time in adopting these new alleyways, clogged with cars and unmoving wheely bins.  Suddenly the football club won't have seemed to be such bad neighbours!

We daresay the lamppost notifications around Britannia Road and Cowper Street are going to be thoroughly scrutinised over the coming months!

"Rockingham Road Mews: You can just make out where the centre circle used to be"


  1. we should still be there RR was stolen from us !