Happy Hucknall Town Football Club have more grounds for celebration this week -- literally! For work on their new stadium has started at last.
Only weeks after winning their first major honour for 11 years, Town have announced that the saga surrounding their new base, which stretches back almost as far, is close to being resolved.
Contractors have moved in to prepare the initial groundworks at the site, which is the old Hucknall Colliery tip on Aerial Way, virtually opposite the club’s current ground on Watnall Road. And if all goes to plan, the building of the stadium should begin next March, with a view to it opening for the start of the 2017/18 season.
“It is fantastic news!” beamed president Brian Holmes. “After all this time, it is great to finally see machines on site.
“The stadium is on its way, and I am pleased to see it happen. It was very unfortunate that the recession camne along when it did. Hopefully, the club can now start climbing the leagues again.”
The stadium is being built by Bolsover Properties, the owners of Town’s current ground which the company is keen to develop for housing and business units. Under a planning agreement sanctioned by Ashfield District Council, Bolsover cannot remove the football club until they have built a new ground for them to switch to. The project has been plagued by own goals, including the economic downturn and Town’s dramatic, debt-ridden decline. But now Bolsover see signs of recovery in the marketplace and are keen to press ahead.
“The contractors are levelling off the site and removing all unsuitable materials to form the platform for the new development,” said Holmes. “This should take six months. The scheme will remain, in principle, as originally envisaged, but will be constructed in two phases.
“The first phase will be the main pitch with an additional training/community pitch, together with a 450-seat main stand and all the necessary football and community facilities, including a new social club. Everything will be new.”
The phasing of the project has still to gain the approval of the council. But the reasoning is that Town no longer require the 3,000-capacity stadium originally earmarked.
“The club’s needs have changed,” said Darren Ridout, senior surveyor for Bolsover. “The original scheme would have been too unwieldy and turned into a white elephant that could have killed the club.
“Once these groundworks have been completed, we will be able to go to a contractor and agree a cost for the stadium. We are starting to see green shoots of recovery in the marketplace, so we want to move the club across and make the best use of their current site.”
The second phase, including stands behind both goals and office units, would be built if and when Town returned to their previous lofty non-league status.