Monday, April 26, 2004

A little more co-operation

Another work trip to Rochdale today; this time in search of old design drawings.

As I drive into the town I pass under a railway bride that proudly announces “Rochdale the Birthplace of Co-operation”.

Quite a grand claim; even when you realise from the typeface that this is a reference to the modern co-operative movement.

Not a bad thing for a town to have produced; especially given that the only contribution to more recent cultural heritage that I can associate with Rochdale is Gracie Fields and Lisa Stansfield.

When I get home, the Co-op is still on my mind as I quickly design a poster and leaflets for an Open Public Meeting next month, which will be held in the new Northmoor Community Centre located in a former Co-op building.

The meeting is for the Nutsford Vale Park Project, a local project trying and preserve and improve a large expanse of informal open/green space in our inner city neighbourhood. The land was original clay pits for the brickworks, then in the 70’s it was landfilled and capped over. This most un-environmentally friendly of histories has perversely preserved this area of wild space from building development. Accordingly the land has now become home to a diverse range of wildlife and is also a valuable amenity in the area.

This is not to say that it is without problems. Over the past 6 years the NVPP have raised ten’s of thousands of pounds to improve the perimeter security to deter fly-tipping and misuse of the space my trail-bikes, relay hedgerows, manage the vegetation, plant wildflower meadows and so forth. The group has also undertaken numerous clean-up days on the land and lobbied for a proper future plan for the land.

Sometimes it feels like we are fighting a losing battle trying to get the voices of local residents heard. Major plans for the land happen with zero or minimal consultation. The frustration of having well meaning parties undertaking schemes that fail to appreciate the dynamics of the local context continues.

My personal bĂȘte noire, is the planting of dense bushes and shrubs in vast swathes of formally open land immediately adjacent to major footpaths (you can see the areas being prepared for this in the aerial photo). Surely it doesn’t take the brains of a rocket scientist to grasp that dense planting in an area with one of the highest crime rates in Britain is just a little foolish…

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