Better Streets Projects
The Village Improvements Working Group (renamed ‘Better Streets’ in 2021) was established in early 2017. Its genesis was prompted by three connected factors:
- Production of a Parish Plan in 2012 which highlighted possible environmental improvements - but progress was impeded by the flooding.
- Pre-2014 flood PC objective to declutter road signs and work towards a more visually attractive road signing policy. Post-flood, this initiative gained new impetus.
- By 2016, when flood alleviation and remedial works had finished, the village was looking really quite shabby.
Annual Parish Meetings from 2014 to 2017 all focused on the needs and wishes of the village to enhance the visual and environmental aspects of Hambledon, including roads, village approaches by road, planting opportunities, road signs, and street furniture. Of most significance was the 2016 Meeting where attendees voted overwhelmingly to pay a increased precept (on average circa £12k p.a.) in order to fund improvements to the street environment. A subsequent brief to the whole village via e-mail and The Hambledonian elicited only three negative responses which indicated wide acceptance. These consultations have helped to guide the Working Group, and suggested improvements have come from residents, officers and councillors alike.
The following document, produced by Cllr John Thornton, provides some further information:
When and Why was the Better Streets (fka Village Improvement) Scheme Started?
Who Makes Up the Better Streets Working Group?
Members of the working group include parish councillors and volunteer villagers, as follows:
Cllr John Thornton (Chair)
Cllr Neil Mason
Other villagers are consulted as appropriate.
Village Improvement Projects Working Doc 30 Nov 2020
Correspondence with Villagers
E-mail to Villagers re George House Bollards Nov 2020
E-mail to Villagers re George House Bollards & Planters Nov 2020
Project Information and Updates
Green Man Flower Beds
Improvement to the Green Man junction area and creation of the flower beds there began in 2016 and involved collabaration with local authority contractors (removing redundant signs), a private contractor (Green Zone Design) who did the planting design, and members of the community (led by the Horticultural Society) who plant out and maintain the beds. The photos below were taken mid-July, but at any point in the year they look beautiful and are a real asset to this focal point of the village.
Two very old, worn-out noticeboards were replaced with an oak-framed, magnetic-backed noticeboard in April 2018. The three separate panels house information from the PC, general village info (e.g. parish map), and the Arts Society (who kindly contributed to the purchase cost). Greenbarnes Ltd supplied the board and it was fitted by J Blackman Arboriculture Fencing & Estate Maintenance Services Ltd (with permission from Millers & Co who own the wall where it is mounted).
Church/School Directional Sign
The original contract for this 1930s embossed cast metal street nameplate was placed with Heritage Finger Post Signs, but this was terminated by the PC in July 2019 when the supplier failed on numerous occasions to fulfil the contract. The work was once again put out to tender, and was finally completed in November 2020 by Croft Castings Ltd, and installed by J Blackman Arboriculture, Fencing & Estate Management Services Ltd.
Identified as in serious need of attention, the previous fingerpost signs have undergone replacement (Green Man junction; see photos a & b, below) and refurbishment (East Street/Brook Lane junction and Brook Lane/Chidden junction). The original contract was placed with Heritage Finger Post Signs, but this was terminated by the PC in September 2019 when the supplier failed on numerous occasions to fulfil the contract. There were a number of elements that were not completed: replacing the temporary wooden fingers on the Green Man post with cast aluminium ones (the possibility of re-tendering for this work is to be discussed at the Sept 2021 PC meeting); replacing the broken Glidden finger on the East Street/Brook Lane junction post (this contract was awarded to JK Engineering in April 2021); sign decluttering at the East Street/Brook Lane junction (recently fulfilled by JK Engineering); and the refurbishment & replacement of two finials at Three Corners (completed free of charge in December 2020 by HCC).
Rejuvenation of the area at the bottom of Cams Hill has been multi-faceted, as follows:
- lowering of the post and rail fence around the Big Pipe outlet, to the level of the white railings (carried out by J Gordon Forestry & Arboriculture Ltd);
- replacement of the eight plastic bollards on the verge by the railings with short oak bollards (supplied by Chris Brown Joinery; installed by JK Engineering);
- replacement of the four bollards at the West Street pinch-point on the B2150 with oak bollards (supplied by Chris Brown Joinery; installed by JK Engineering);
- replacement of the 'West Street' nameplate previously situated in front of the Forge Cottage wall with one on the opposite side of the road to the Cams Hill entrance; and
- addition of a new cast metal ‘Cams Hill’ nameplate (on an oak post) in replacement of two of the eight plastic bollards (supplied and installed by JK Engineering).
Street Name Signs
The PC was fortunate to be awarded grants from both HCC and WCC for the replacement/addition of street name signs. The main aim of this project, which is on-going (July 2021), has been to provide durable and permanent signs with a consistent design, good visibility and in suitable locations.
Highway Area outside George House, East Street
The highway in front of George House was identified as another focal area in the village. The PC employed Green Zone Design (who provided the designs for the Green Man beds) to give advice and draw up plans. After consultation with George House residents and negotiation with Hampshire Highways, a number of changes were made to the initial plans. The result is four fibreglass faux lead planters placed close to the building, and six new symmetrically placed cast iron bollards which keep vehicles off this piece of highway and protect the new planters. The bollards were supplied and installed by JK Engineering.
Green Zone Design was fundamental in advising the PC on suitable plants for what is quite a shaded area. The planters are now coming to life with Parahebes, Carex, Achillea and Stachys, to name a few. George House residents kindly offered to provide bay trees for the two square planters.
Kissing Gates on Footpath 5
Following complaints by a number of villagers, three stiles on Footpath 5 were identified as being in poor order and restricting access on an important route from Hambledon to Denmead. The PC was successful in obtaining a grant from the HCC Rural Communities Fund to cover 50% of the costs, and awarded the contract for the work to local business, J Gordon Forestry & Arboriculture Ltd. The project was delayed by problems with supply of the gates during the first Covid-19 lockdown, but installation was completed in November 2020. The new gates make a huge improvement to accessibility in this area of the village.
Rights of Way (RoW) Maintenance - 2020
Five of our key footpaths (6; 26; 33; 8a and 15a) are usually cut in the summer by Hampshire Countryside Service as part of the Priority Cutting List. In 2021, the PCL contract was postponed due to all the uncertainties surrounding Covid-19 lock-down and social distancing etc., and the PC was asked to manage the list itself. After a tendering process, a contractor was selected and the work duly carried out. It later became clear that only a proportion of the cost would be reimbursed by HCC, which left a significant shortfall for the PC to fund. The Clerk, concerned that the tendering process had not resulted in the best value for money being obtained, sought the advice of the PC's internal auditor, who in turn forwarded details to the external auditor, for reference. The internal auditor, as can be seen from the e-mail communication on the link below, advised that ...'in amongst the disruption caused by the global COVID pandemic, an email to HCC was missed, resulting in the council incurring expenditure which had not been budgeted for. This is not ideal but as it is very clear that it was an error rather than any deliberate act I see no point in doing other than to remind the council of the following...'.
Prior to the 2014 flood, there was already established a long-standing PC objective to declutter the village of road signs and work towards a more visually attractive road signing policy. Post-flood, this initiative gained new impetus.
The regeneration of the area at the foot of The Gardens is still, in the main, at the discussion stage with WCC, which intself has been working closely with residents. This is a comprehensive plan which will hopefully see new planting (shrubs), re-paving of the two quadrants, installation of a bench seat overlooking the Down, and the moving of the salt bin.
This year (2021), the PC has negotiated with WCC over the replacement of the two existing street signs with one traditional cast iron (or aluminium) sign to match the other new/replacement ones in the village. This will be on an oak backing board with oak legs, and will have 'Residents Parking Only' underneath, as per the Old Barn Crescent sign. The contract to supply the sign was awarded to JK Engineering in March 2021, at a value of £650 + VAT, to be paid from the Better Streets budget. WCC will be carrying out the installion so that it ties-in with its work schedule.
The PC also hopes to be able to install a socket (hole) for a Christmas tree along with a power supply for lights, in the position of the old telephone box which was removed some years ago. Discussions with WCC are on-going.
Village Entrance Signs
The annual parish meeting in 2016 voted overwhelmingly to replace the existing village entrance signs with illustrated, cast metal signs.
The new signs will be placed closer to the village than the current ones on West Street (see photo a, below) and East Street (see photo b, below). The new Green Lane sign will be placed in roughly the same position. The speed limit signs will remain where they are so won’t detract from the new village signs.
In June 2020, JK Engineering was awarded the contract for supply and installation of the signs, based on a design submitted by villager, John Richards. Below is a computer-generated illustration, accompanied by a sketch of the 'twinning' sign which is to be mounted underneath each of the main village signs. Please note that the posts will not be visible above the top edge of the sign.