Stream dredging and bank repairs (B3048 Longparish)

The Parish Council is aware that the works carried out along the stream recently have caused concern to residents, and we are dismayed to see that a number of the reflective posts have been removed/knocked over.

To provide some background information:

20 years ago or more, it was possible to walk along the verge as it was a metre wide in most places.  As traffic and speed has increased, and ever larger vehicles use the road, effectively the road edges have expanded and the verge has become smaller through erosion.

As vehicles have driven onto the verge to avoid other vehicles, the verge has started to slip away and in some places has completely disappeared allowing the stream to flood on to the road.  You can no longer walk along the verge.

Over the years the Parish Council has tried different options to bolster parts of the bank by using concrete slabs (not very attractive), or wooden boards, but they only work temporarily.  We have spoken to the landowner and Highways in an effort to find a more permanent solution. Those who have attended previous PC meetings will know that we were really keen to look at a more natural solution as has been done in St Mary Bourne (funded by hefty grants).

As the stream and verge is the joint responsibility of Hampshire Highways and the landowner, the ability to apply for grants to fix something that is not under the ownership of the PC has proved difficult, and therefore pursuit of this as an option has been put on hold.  It, too, would have involved dredging the stream, but with a more natural result, however, in a meeting with Hampshire Highways last March, it was suggested that some work could be undertaken to try and repair the bank, but this may not happen until 2023 – it would seem that this date was brought forward, but the Parish Council was not notified in advance.

It is unfortunate that HCC did not notify the PC of their intention to carry out these works, however while the dredging debris is unsightly, it will act to build up the bank.  As the works have been carried out before spring really gets going, the grass on the bank should start to grow through again quite quickly.

The reflective black posts are not very attractive, but are there temporarily while the bank stabilises to prevent vehicles driving on to it.   It is therefore important that they remain in situ to allow the bank to recover.

This is all part and parcel of trying to make that section of road past the playground safer for pedestrians and cyclists as well as trying to preserve the verge which was rapidly disappearing into the stream due to vehicles trying to pass each other at speed.

We have contacted Hampshire Highways (see response below) to ensure that any works so far are not left so that it is unsightly while the natural regeneration takes place. Whilst it would have been preferable to have received some prior warning, and been given the opportunity to have some say in the type of posts installed, it is important that we try and look beyond the immediate effect and hope that in the longer-term, road users will drive more slowly through the village.

Response from Hampshire Highways:

 “The repairs works which have recently been undertaken here were as a result our meeting with the parish last year. The verge marker posts which have been installed are there to prevent vehicle overrun to give the bank a chance to establish. My many years of experience tells me without these the first vehicle along the road will pull the bank down and it will be back to a muddy mess. Whilst we did consider alternative verge markers, unfortunately there isn't the support within the bank currently for anything of a more rural nature (wooden posts etc). These are not the final works which the parish were hoping to have done here.

 We have submitted the verge and stream bank here as part of a possible future Operation Resilience scheme to re-enforce the bank in the manner the parish council originally wanted. This is not something which can be delivered from our maintenance budget which was clearly explained during the meeting. I have asked that the parish council are kept in the loop when my Operation Resilience colleagues reach the design stage for this scheme. Once this scheme gets delivered (and at present I don't know when or even if it will) we can then look at removing or amending the verge marker posts to something more in keeping with the village.”

Sally Lawman

Parish Clerk

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Tel: 01264 738716