19th January 2021

alternative scheme Surrey Heath Borough Council (SHBC) is asking for residents views on how to protect the Green from incursions by participating in a survey at:

www.surreyheath.gov.uk/frimleygreenvillage.

We would encourage all local residents and businesses to express their view by completing the survey. The survey closes on midnight Sunday, 31st January 2021.

The Council's proposal is to have bunds lining the perimeter of the Green as in the illustration. However the MFG&D Society has reservations about this approach and proposes alternatives to protecting the Green's perimeter, see below.

Protecting the Boundary of the Village Green

Author: Graham O'Connell

Concerns about traveller incursions are well founded and it is good to keep under review the protection of our valuable green spaces. Frimley Green village green has been subject to an incursion in recent years but the council moved quickly to put up short but solid wooden posts around the green where they were needed.

Access to the green is officially by a locked gate and, for pedestrians and cyclists, via several paths. Much of the green is secured from unofficial vehicle access by a mix of trees, benches, bins and street furniture. The remainder is blocked by 91 wooden posts (currently there is a gap where one post is missing which has been reported) and one old concrete post. On one stretch of the pavement there are also 50 ugly black and white reflector posts (with three or four gaps where posts are broken or missing).

Surrey Heath Borough Council are consulting on the possibility of putting up earth bunds to replace the wooden posts, presumably as they feel the current posts are insufficiently secure though no evidence of that has been provided. Bunds can be effective and, in the right setting, may be acceptable. However, it seems unlikely it will go down well with residents here as many feel it would not be a sympathetic solution. This is the benefit of consultation and it is good that the council have sought views before taking this further.

The cost of the proposed bunds would be around 14,500 though on top of that would be the cost of the common land application, 4,900, and, possibly, any costs associated with planning permission. It is not clear whether the bunds would cover all the areas currently secured by posts so there may also be some additional costs if new, more secure posts are needed. However, for the moment a round figure of 20,000 is good enough for comparison purposes.

alternative scheme The council have not offered up any alternatives to find out which solution residents would prefer but they have asked for ideas. This seems an ideal opportunity to make use of the 20,000 to both enhance the village green whilst also making it more secure. This need not involve just one solution, like new bollards, but could involve a coordinated and cohesive mix of different materials. This might include one or two new trees (though because of sight lines this would be limited along the main stretch of road), some new benches with integrated planters, new much needed lidded hardwood bins and new stronger and secured hardwood bollards. A small, sculptural earth bund planted with wild flowers might also fit in as part of this scheme if designed and located with care.

The stretch of main road by the roundabouts will be improved in the near future and that will affect the pavement, bus stop, utilities and street furniture along that side of the green. We have yet to see detailed plans but it makes sense that the council negotiate closely with the developer on this and integrate any changes to secure the green into that plan. Done well this could save a fair part of the cost or help share the cost.

Ongoing maintenance costs will undoubtedly be a factor but it is worth noting that earth bunds are not maintenance free; mowing is more difficult for example. The use of durable, sustainable products would be desirable as is the involvement of the community, in maintaining planters for example. The pavement area around the green is part of the green and is common land as well as being part of the highway. If the green itself is properly protected the ugly black and white posts can probably be removed and not replaced on the pavement but the view of highways, and their permission, would be needed.

As an illustration for cost purposes, large oak bollards can be bought for as little as 78 incl vat (from speedystreetsolutions) and for additional security they can be anchored for about 9 (from vidaxl). This is without any trade or bulk buying discount. Sticking with round figures for all materials, this is under 100 per bollard. Even if you secured the whole area this way the cost would only be around 9,000 (plus labour).

Spherical cast iron bollards, perhaps either side of path entry points, start at about 140 and are root fixed with concrete (bollards.co.uk). Integrated planters with benches would be ideal to offer extra seating, perhaps by the bus stop and to replace the ugly concrete bench opposite the estate agents. Sizes, styles and costs vary enormously but it would probably be better to go for a small amount of high quality options rather that have lots of cheap ones. Lidded hardwood bins would be best seen as replacements to existing bins rather than as stand alone barriers, but one or two near path entrances (eg by one-stop) could serve both purposes.

It is worth noting that the MFG&D Society have raised funds and planted thousands of daffodils around the perimeter of the green in recent years. We would expect the council to ensure there is no net lose of daffodils whatever measures are adopted.

So, in conclusion, with a bit of imagination and careful planning it should be easily possible to improve the security of the green from traveller incursion without expensive and unsightly bunds. Attractive, functional and lower cost options will provide enduring benefits to our treasured village green and be far more likely to receive the warm support of local residents.