Friday, 3 December 2010

The green belt doesn't go Red

Mixed feelings here at the Observatory about the failed World Cup bid. I'd have liked to see some of the matches take place in Nottingham, given the economic boost that would have resulted. But I will declare myself a NIMBY and say that I'm relieved that plans for a new stadium at Gamston now seem to be completely nixed.

Yes, I know, Gamston is a pretty tedious upper middle-class dormitory suburb that was Green Belt, and I remember it when it was green rather than BMW and Mercedes chic. The sins of the fathers... The remaining countryside between West Bridgford and Radcliffe isn't, perhaps, particularly beautiful, but it is a valuable wildlife haven and I walk the old footpaths around there several times a year. If a stadium were to be built there, the inevitable 'in fill' would take place and it wouldn't be long before there was no open land between the city and Radcliffe. I could accept that, provided that we'd made the most of the city itself, but there's an awful lot to do before we could say that we had. The Broadmarsh development seems to be stalled; the bold plans for the Eastside, for the north bank of the river between Trent Bridge and Colwick and for the old Boots site are all yet to make progress. It seems madness to me to take the easy option of developing greenfield sites outside the city while leaving scruffy, semi-derelict sites inside the town untouched.

Of course those inner-city sites have all sorts of problems attached, particularly the contamination at the old Boots site. That's why, after all the buildings were taken down several years ago, it's remained an open space, notable only for weeds. We will literally have to grasp the nettle, though, if this city is to be really proud of itself. It will take much longer, granted, but meaningful achievements do take time. Building a new stadium at Gamston as things stand would have been much like putting a daisy near a cowpat and saying everything was lovely.

Last comment. I'm sure the proposed stadium would have looked impressive if built. But if this was what was presented to FIFA (without a suitably large 'honorarium'), I'm not at all surprised the bid sank without trace. Crass or what?

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