FAO Gary North

South England Forest District

Forestry Commission

The Queen's House

Lyndhurst

Hants, S043 7NH                                                                                                                                           12th January 2017

                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Dear Gary

Crown Land Verge Protection – Woodgreen

Following on from comments raised at our Parish Council meeting on 10th January and now that all your proposed works have been completed, the Parish Council feels there are some issues that need to be addressed.

Woodgreen was chosen as the pilot parish for verge protection work to be undertaken in the Western Escarpment Conservation Area (WECA) and other areas in the New Forest and as such we feel that everything possible should have been done to ensure that the works were completed on a timely basis. However, there was such a time delay between the erecting of new dragon’s teeth in the Spring last year and the digging of ditches in December that further damage to the verges occurred and there was no growing season left for the new ditches to mellow in a little before the winter.

Regarding the dragon’s teeth, these do not appear to have been set in the ground so deeply this time and instead of being unobtrusive, are taller and more visible. In addition, as they are higher above the ground than before, there is more leverage and are easier to remove.

As far as the new ditches around Woodgreen Common are concerned, these are significantly deeper than the last time they were dug, supposedly because the incidence of vehicle parking has increased, and so the piles of earth alongside are that much higher and, as not all the turf removed has been placed on top, they will take longer to grass over and become more visually acceptable in the village.

Turning to the ditches along the inclosure drove road towards Godshill, these have created an eyesore on this road. They were dug to reduce the parking on the entrances to the forest gates, but the materials unearthed are not the usual subsoil but bricks and rubble, no doubt laid by the Forestry Commission in the past to give better access for forest maintenance. No attempt has been made to encourage new grass growth and so the works have tended to emphasise the wide openings rather than improve the situation.

Although the Parish Council acknowledges and supports the need to control parking on Crown Land, what probably has not been appreciated is the increase in vehicles using the area and the new restraints have tended to move the problems to areas where it is still easy to park on the verge rather than solving the situation. This is evidenced by further damage to verges in the triangle at the post box on Woodgreen Common, in the wider part of Brook Lane, the track at the top of Little Drove and the grass verges along the inclosure drove road to Godshill. In addition, drivers that used to park at Densome Corner, now do so down the road towards the keeper’s cottage.

We realise that members of the WECA Steering Group are meeting the Forestry Commission on 19th January to discuss the works completed, but the parish council wanted you to be aware of this parish’s concerns as well. In order to alleviate the situation, we would suggest that the following measures are taken:

1.     Keep the Godshill Pit Car Park open all year in order to increase parking availability.

2.     Bury the new dragon’s teeth lower in the ground in order to reduce their visibility and make them more difficult to remove.

3.     Consider the deployment of further dragon’s teeth at the post box triangle and in Brook Lane (already being addressed).

4.     In order to improve the visual impact of the ditches, consider placing the turf removed more effectively and/or use grass seed appropriate for the SSSI in the Spring to enhance the chance of grass coverage sooner. Alternatively, remove some of the soil that has been excavated from the deeper trenches and reduce the height of the mound. The excess soil could be used to landscape other areas which have been left in an unsightly state, particularly at the top of Brook Lane where the entrance to the cricket ground and homes has been narrowed.

5.     Re-consider the creation of a new small carpark at Densome Corner which has been proposed in the past by parishioners and regular local visitors to the area. It is an area of poor grazing.

6.     Consider the creation of vehicle passing spaces alongside narrow roads as was suggested by WECASG.

There is one further matter that we would like you to review in respect of the track leading from the top of Brook Lane to the cricket club gate. At present, when there is heavy rainfall, this track receives large quantities of water as it runs off Woodgreen Common. Would it be possible to extend the ditches either side of the gate so that they also act as a drainage channel for the water and thereby avoid more erosion on the track itself?

We do not expect to hear from you until after the meeting on 19th January but would like you to address these concerns as soon as possible thereafter. I would be happy to meet with you on site to discuss the above concerns.

Yours sincerely


 

J S Hall

Chairman – Woodgreen Parish Council.

Vicky Eden: 19th Jan 2017 14:46:00

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