Potato Day Success
The 10th Potato Day attracted even more visitors to Whitchurch than ever. Over 1,600 visitors from all over the South of England came to Testbourne for the annual potato extravaganza. The total of 141 varieties of seed potato on sale is believed to be the largest available to amateur gardeners in one place in the world.
Not only were individual visitors attracted, so was the BBC TV's Inside Out programme. A 4 man team spent over 6 hours filming for a programme to be screened in March or April. Local businesses were more involved than ever before and well over £1,000 was raised fro the local groups that supported the event.
The Town Council has had a very generous offer from a local resident to re-instate the collection of plastic milk bottle tops, in aid of Naomi House.
The Collection Point will therefore be re-instated at the Town Hall. Please bring your tops well wrapped, in manageable sized bags, as these will have to be transported to Reading by train.
More Houses in Micheldever Road
The proposal to build more houses at the bottom of Micheldever Road on land being sold off by Testbourne School is causing concern for some of the road's inhabitants. The junction with Winchester Road is the scene of lengthy delays twice a day during term time as residents trying to leave or enter the road and gain access to the large housing area off the road battle with parents and busses delivering or taking their children away by car. The concern is that extra housing can only lead to more traffic and hence more delays.
The matter was discussed at the Whitchurch Town Council Meeting on Monday night and the decision taken was to oppose the planning application.
Town Centre Improvements Move On
The Steering Group(SG) met on Thursday continuing to move the improvements programme forward.
The input from the month long consultation was discussed and suggestions were reviewed. The suggestions revolved around:
Materials and costs of developing the Town Hall frontage: The Town Hall area is seen as the most prestigious part of the town and as such it was agreed that the quality of materials used was important and whilst ensuring that costs were within budget. It was also felt that comparatively local sourcing from the UK would keep the carbon footprint to a minimum.
Increasing the number of cycle stands: Suggestions to increase the quantity of cycle stands in the area and have a design better than plain hoops were accepted, the extra stand hopefully being sited with those near the Old Paper Shop.
Bell Street Car Park material costs and design: Cost of The cost difference in using the new material in the Bell Street Car Park was marginal and by using consistent materials in the car park the space would look the same in both areas (car park 1 & 2). Two suggestions on the replanting in the car park will be included in the detailed design and Graham Burgess has agreed to work with the planners on this.
The cost estimates are at present just within the budget of £125,000. The county council planners will now proceed to create the detailed designs, which will be put on display as soon as they are available (initial plans will continue to be on display in the Town Hall and Library). From these they will produce costings, which will allow for the required approvals. The target for approval is the end of April. This will be followed by a tendering exercise and work could start as early as June.
Many of the suggestions related to the maintenance of the existing pavements and roadway around the Town centre. Hampshire County Council is keen to work on current issues with the Town Council and work on paving maintenance (from the maintenance budget) to tie in with the Town Hall frontage designs, so that money for capital projects can be preserved.
The projects being funded by the SEEDA grant are starting to have an effect already with the Paint Your Town project having supported the redecoration of the frontage of the new bridal shop. A further 2 applications have been approved and 3 received; 3 other business folk are preparing their submissions.
Work on creating a set of brochures is also in hand; this should see the circular walks brochure being up dated and a consistent style being used for the reissue, after some considerable time, of the heritage trail and town business leaflets. It is hoped that the 2 cycle trail leaflets issued by Hampshire County Council which currently include passing references to Whitchurch, will include more information about the Town.
The Town Centre Improvements Manager (TCIM) is trying to find an appropriate notice board design for use in the Winchester Street Car Park and in the area of the station. She will also be approaching the owners of the land around the station to find a suitable location.
The SEEDA grant includes provision for a Community Arts Project, the SG asked the TCIM to produce plans for how this can be managed from getting the ideas through to completion. Two ideas have already been put forward, it is hoped that others will emerge so that Whitchurch can decide how it would like the money spent.
It looks as though one of the proposed projects, the erection of brown tourist signs on the A34 will not be allowed because of the Highways Authorities rules. The Steering Group is working to find alternative ways of attracting visitors to the town.
The Steering Group’s Chairman, Andy Alferovs said “We are starting to see significant progress in the planning and soon there will be more and more visible progress. The activity does not stop here. The Steering Group will continue to identify projects for town improvement and in the short term start reviewing the ideas for the Community Public Arts initiative. Our thanks go to everyone who viewed and participated in the consultation process and particular thanks to the planners at Basingstoke and Hampshire CC who have supported this process throughout.”
After many years in abeyance, one brave individual has stepped forward to get a carnival organised in Whitchurch.
Rob Dunlop has organised an open brainstorming meeting at 3pm on Saturday
19th Jan in the Harvest Home. All are welcome.
Rob also has ideas for a large rock concert, combining the teams behind Twang 3 and Testbourne Rocks to produce a music event as memorable as both of them together.
The recycling facility in Winchester Road Car Park has been changed. Glass bottles and jars and aluminium foil containers are now behind a wooden screen.
Christmas trees can also be left there for collection.