BRIDGFORD STREET PROJECT Update 25/08/06 Walking the Project with RBC Officer
Present at On-site Meeting 25/08/06
Jim Beard, Rushcliffe Borough Council
David Atkins, EB Parish Councillor & EB Conservation/Planning Action Group
Sheila Brunt, EB Wildlife & Biodiversity Group
Richard Mackie, Conservation/Planning Action & Wildlife & Biodiversity Groups and original instigator of the project.
Parish Councillors John Turner and John Chater were unable to attend
All members of the Conservation/Planning Action and Wildlife Groups were invited to attend, as were the three parish councillors who had agreed to liaise with the PC on this project. Mr David Meylan was informed on the 23rd by e-mail.
The good news is that RBC have confirm their approved of this project and given it a budget of £3,000. RBC would manage the project using outside contractors. The Parish Council’s new copse will be a major element in the project.
After today’s discussions Jim Beard will work up a plan of action for discussion by interested parties.
Before any concrete action is taken there has to be formal agreement with the landowners – the Church Commissioners, Mr. Geoff Hall and, when the contract for the purchase of the plot for the copse is finalised, the EBPC. The imminent planting season requires that we make rapid progress on these agreements.
Objectives of the Meeting
The meeting was called to discuss the latest proposals (see Bridgford Street Enhancement Project revised June 2006) with Jim Beard RBC:
- to walk Bridgford Street and note improvements that could be made;
- to find out what Rushcliffe are willing to do and when, so that we can approach the landowners to get agreement in principle;
- to agree on the next steps; these should then be presented to the EBPC and relevant voluntary groups for approval or modification.
RBC Small Environmental Project Capabilities
RBC will not only fund projects, but will also carry out the work using external contractors. Their position can be summarised as follows:
Basic work: wholesale clearing; fencing; paths; planting trees & hedges,
Not So Good at
Activities better handled by locals (e.g. selective clearance)
Not Involved in
Regular / longer term maintenance or management programmes
RBC Budget for Bridgford Street Project – £3,000
On tree planting the previous ‘Parish Planting Scheme’ is now replaced by two schemes:
- ‘Planting & Landscape Scheme’ – up to £500 per Parish for the purchase of trees/whips etc.;
- ‘Environmental Improvement Scheme’ – Bridgford Street is in the RBC Small Environmental Projects 05-06 budget for £3,000.
These two schemes cannot be added together. On a particular site a village has to choose which scheme to apply for.
OBSERVATIONS WHILST/AFTER WALKING THE BRIDLEWAY
This section notes points that expand on or differ from those already made in the proposals revised in June and circulated to the Parish Council. Comments on these suggestions are of course welcome.
The Future Copse
The Parish Council have nearly completed the purchase of a parcel approx 1/4 acre at the Kirk Hill end of the bridleway. It was recently harvested arable with good hedges on 2 sides. The Parish Council intend to plant this as a copse. It was thought that this would in ecological terms be a good substitute for the second boundary hedge on the bridleway which had originally been proposed.
Planting would consist of mainly whips, with possibly a few small trees. Rushcliffe are willing to include the copse in the project; this would cover trees, planting, fencing, and replacement of whips that die in the first year, etc. – details to be agreed.
It is understood that Mr. David Meylan EBPC (assisted by Mrs Susan Pynegar of the EBWBG) have recently viewed the site and will make proposals on (a) the species to be planted (RBC is only able to fund trees listed as native to South Notts Farmland -list with Mr. Meylan), and (b) future management.
Mr Meylan is also apparently identifying additional funding resources. As far as Rushcliffe grants are concerned we have a choice between applying for a maximum £500 Planting & Landscape grant towards copse planting or going ahead with the copse as a major part of the £3,000 Bridgford Street project – we cannot have both. Combining additional sources of funding with a Rushcliffe Small Environmental scheme is also considered less satisfactory than relying exclusively on Rushcliffe.
It was noted that the public right of way footpath (No.27) crosses the copse plot diagonally to join the bridleway close to the Kirk Hill entry. Altering the footpath to its current informal and direct junction at right angles would require an application for formal approval, whereas a diagonal walk through the copse would be an attractive feature. So it was thought best to follow the official route through the copse.
It was not clear if the boundary hedge with the glebe field on the northern side of the plot would need annual cutting and so require room for a tractor and flail to pass, or could be left untended (a subsequent closer look shows that the other side of this hedge is already used for trees and not pasture so it could probably be safely left wild).
Temporary fencing to protect the planting would be necessary bordering the bridleway, the diagonal foot path 27 and the end of Mr. Hall’s field.
The Allotment Triangle
Mr. Hall is including the small triangular allotment (formerly gardened by the late Mr. Chapman) in the sale of the plot for the copse. This triangle (although not on Sanderson’s map of 1835), is shown on the first Ordnance Survey map dated 1884.
The allotment needs clearing of all woody vegetation & then there is a choice:
- planting up as for the main plot;
- left to revert to grassland, with at least an annual mow;
- run as a tree seed nursery (this is a subsequent suggestion by Susan Pynegar. Seeds could be collected this autumn around the village, grown on for two years and then replanted where ever needed. The surrounding hedge would give protection and it is very accessible if anyone finds a seedling in their garden and needs a home for it.)
As it is old but not ancient the hedge separating the allotment from the main plot should probably be preserved. If the allotment was planted with trees this hedge could be allowed to grow wild. A gap to allow entry on foot would need to be cut. The current overgrown gate entry from Kirk Hill should be closed for safety reasons and hedged.
Mr. Hall’s Field
As there will be no second hedge on the field side of the bridleway, improvement centres on the boundary with the A6097. The blackthorn scrub on the A6097 side of the bridle path’s boundary hedge is on County Council land and overshadows the low and rather decayed hedge bordering the bridleway. Although it makes it difficult to improve the hedge, the blackthorn and several trees provide a good visual barrier to the busy A6097 and so no action is proposed. We presume there is a risk that the NCC might decide at some time to cut back this scrub.
In two places the absence of blackthorn overhang will make it practical to restore the hedge and include one or two hedgerow trees.
- small gap close to the new copse
- large gap opposite the busy lay-by
We understand that Mt Hall has already agreed to this in principle. Formal agreement is required before RBC start work.
The Church Commissioners’ Paddock
This narrow strip of old meadow (see Sanderson’s map of 1833) is much reduced by brambles, nettles and elder, etc. It needs indiscriminate clearing on both sides back to the hedge line, removing encroaching blackthorn, elder, brambles & nettles, but leaving the central mown bridleway and two or three clearly identifiable patches of grassland, to allow natural regeneration of pasture grasses and wildflowers. Formal agreement of the landowner is required before RBC start work. If this agreement cannot be obtained in time, then we might be able to apply for a Planting & Landscape grant next year.
As it is a bridleway used by riders new horse gates are needed at the Kirk Hill and Brunt’s Lane ends. At the Kirk Hill end the gates would need to set back 2 horse lengths from the road to shield riders from potentially dangerous entry by the traffic lights. .At both ends wide access gates would also be required to allow passage of farm machinery. These farm gates would need to be locked to stop unauthorised vehicle entry into the paddock once it has been cleared. Landowner agreement will be required.
In the original proposal, right of way, heritage and wildlife signs were proposed and this remains an objective. However the postponement of the A46 road widening and major changes to rights of way at the south eastern edge of the parish means that this is perhaps now not opportune. Simple right of way signage at both ends of the project should however refer to the Roman origin, e.g. “Bridgford Street Bridleway from Roman Margidunum to the Trent.”.
Urgent agreement on the action is required for the Copse and Allotment Triangle and for the A6097 boundary of Mr. Hall’s Field if the planting is to be done this season, ideally in November. As Rushcliffe wish to contract out the whole project at the same time, agreement with the Church Commissioners is similarly urgent or work on the paddock will have to be postponed and fresh funding applied for in next budget year.
(For Next Steps see overleaf
Rushcliffe – Jim Beard
Prepare an outline implementation plan; this is likely to include a survey of the copse/allotment area. This would be submitted to EB for approval
- Circulate these notes for approval to:
- the Parish Council and any relevant sub-committees, David Atkins to present the latest position at the next EBPC meeting
- the Conservation / Planning Action and Wildlife & Biodiversity Groups.
- Now that Rushcliffe funding is assured, contact the landowners:
- the agents for Church Commissioners (after getting the support of Canon Alan Haydock – a first approach is being made to him on behalf of the Conservation, Planning Acton Group)
- Mr Geoff Hall (and also his tenant Mr, Harvey Pickford)
- EBPC as new owners of the copse and triangular allotment
- to present the latest plan, negotiate their formal written agreement. This is required before RBC will act.
- Develop tree planting proposals and a management plan, enlisting local volunteer groups to help with maintenance;
- Agree a project team to report to the Parish Council and to liaise with Rushcliffe, so avoiding the current multiple contacts*.
* (The writer of this note would be very happy to hand over.)