|The Rushden Echo, 8th May 1964, transcribed by Jim Hollis
Super town or super mess…
Extra 30,000 People for Rushden?
Rushden super town! Or super mess? This week’s news of a possible 30,000 overspill for the town came as a sugar-coated bitter pill in certain quarters, raising first elation, and then a feeling of almost complete panic.
Overspill is still a long way away. It has to have County Council backing, and then the Government must be persuaded to enlarge its south-east plan to include Rushden.
Seeing the news in Saturday’s “Evening Telegraph” was the first inkling many people, including the Urban Council, had of the plan. It will almost certainly mean some drastic re-thinking on the council’s future development ideas.
The town’s population at present is under 18,000 and the proposed increase would nearly quadruple its size. No indication has yet been given as to when this would occur, or how long it would take to absorb the extra population.
But if Wellingborough has ten years to absorb only 10,000 extra people under its present overspill plan, then Rushden needs at least that length of time to absorb its own share.
A town of nearly 50,000 people is going to need its own grammar and high schools, which at present Rushden just does not have.
The nearest is Wellingborough, which itself is going to increase its population by another proposed 30,000. Here the Rushden councillors need to put their serious thinking caps on, and put the pressure on the County Education Committee like never before.
If they do not, at least the bus company would make a profit, with an estimated 2,000 schoolchildren travelling between Wellingborough and Rushden homes.
One of the basic problems is where the newcomers are going to live.
Thirty thousand people mean a whole new town, and where around Rushden is there enough land to build that many homes? And, remember, they will have to bring their own industry with them.
Rushden Urban Council Housing Assistant, Mr. T. Horsley, told the “Echo” that the council had 49 dwellings on its housing programme at the moment. These were mainly for old people and should be ready at the beginning of next year.
Beyond that is the prospect of two dozen flats in Newton Road, when the council has if it can acquire the necessary land; and the possible redevelopment of Cromwell Road.
And beyond that NOTHING.Prospect of obtaining extra land?Almost nil.
Rushden’s Town Map leaves enough land just to accommodate the extra people and their industry. But, said chartered auctioneer and estate agent Mr. J. C. H. Cantey, J. Pendered and Son, the land is not allocated for that purpose.
“It will be a problem to find land at present, in the Town Map. But if this comes to pass then the council will have to schedule more land for housing and industry,” he said.
Provided the land can be found then all will be well. But if it cannot, then the planners have a nightmare on their hands.
The Rushden and Higham by-pass prevents land to the east of the town being used, but if the proposed trunk road is built on the west, then land on the other side will have to be opened up. This could mean that Rushden’s boundaries will have to be pushed out making one big built-up area.
It could also mean skyscraper blocks of flats, the only way of getting so many people into such a small area. It could also mean compulsory purchase of land and higher land prices.
Such a town will obviously need more shops, and will also mean more spending power.
Mrs. A. M. Draper, president of Rushden and Higham Ferrers Chamber of Trade, welcomes such an overspill plan.
“I certainly hope it comes to pass. It would mean more people to shop in the town.”
She hoped it would mean an alternative industry to the boot and shoe trade, avoiding such a depression of last year.
More shops may mean redeveloping the shopping centre and an end to the infernal one-way street system.
“We might even get a Civic Centre and Civic Hall,” added Mrs. Draper. “It would certainly mean better amenities for the town all round.”
It will mean headaches, heartaches and sleepless nights for planners. It can also mean borough status for Rushden. It could spell certain amalgamation with Higham.