At last we seem to be having a run of less rain which is good news in terms of progress on site.
The new North Stand is probably being built on the worst part of the site. A culvert runs under the main car park at a depth of about 12 metres and the Broadway side of the ground is mostly fill material, except the area closest to the pitch which has a clay layer about a metre or so below the surface and which prevents the water seeping away. This has meant an almost daily pumping of water from the trenches for the last two months.
Fortunately we have now cleared this area and all the ground beams under the terracing areas are complete. In the pictures you can also see the bolt boxes in position ready to take the steel columns. The contractor is currently completing the rear beam adjacent to the car park and the two lift pits.
So, to the burning questions that I am asked more than any other, when will we see something coming out of the ground and how long will it take and what will happen? Unless we are hit with some severe weather over the next couple of weeks then at the Brentford game I’d expect you will see the first section of framework up and the first terrace units in place.
In terms of timescales, it is programmed that the steel frame and terrace units will take around 10 weeks to complete. By the Notts County game on the May 3, the stand will be well on the way.
The steel frame will be started on the half way line and then built out towards the Zen Office Stand and Verlin Stand with the concrete terrace units being installed in each bay as the stand progresses. The stand is made up of bays and to give an idea of how it goes together, below you can see the architects plan with gridlines marked on forming bays. The first part of the frame to be erected will be the bay on gridlines K & L. Once this bay is complete, a second gang will be brought on site. One will put the frame up on gridlines L & M and the other on gridlines J & K.
With a stand of this nature, it’s not all about the spectator facilities. Whilst these are important in their own right, the stand will provide much more than a match day facility. There is a gym, private boxes, a banqueting and conference facility and a number of other units. There is much work going on behind the scenes talking to the end users of these units, finalising layouts and requirements and making any necessary adjustments to the drawings and ensuring they are approved by the relevant bodies.
Probably the person most pleased to finally see the steel frame going up will be chairman, Simon Corney. The number of meetings I’ve been to with Simon when he has been discussing the proposals of the new stand and showcasing the facilities we will be offering to potential tenants and partners is staggering and I’ve only been at a small number of the meetings Simon has done. Now when the parties come back for the next meeting, he will be able to show them something more than just a set of plans. It’s coming together now and in a couple of weeks time the only way we will be going is up.