Thursday, 31 January 2008

Too Dense to feel like Wendover

Princess Mary’s Hospital Development - Planning Reference 07/03446/ADP
Too Dense to feel like Wendover

As this brown site has been derelict for many years I welcome the initiative to develop it. However, the high density approved in the outline planning has resulted in a detailed plan that includes unwelcome precedents that brings us nearer to a status of an Aylesbury Suburb:

* Houses with no gardens or no parking;
* Awkward building relationships – corner houses in funny angles to their neighbours and interesting garden boundaries.
* Three and four story apartment buildings that for some reason are considered ‘in keeping’ with the rest of the atmosphere of Wendover.

Moreover, insufficient growth space has been allowed for the MS centre. And the pathetic number of parking places allocated to the MS centre will ensure a conflict with the neighbouring residents.
An important aspect is the provision of sustainable routs to schools and the High street. The cycling routs within the development are planned to be in some parts between parking cars and the road. This is an invitation for an accident: a car pulling in or out, a driver opening the door, cars parking partially on the cycling lane. Furthermore, pedestrians and cyclists will find the new roundabouts proposed awkward to negotiate. Tring road is a very busy road and crossing it alongside the roundabouts involves several meeting points with the traffic.

The proposed planes amuse me when they claim that the bus will go through the “Centre of Wendover” (i.e. the clock tower): that will not provide a solution to people visiting the Manor Waste and retuning with bags of shopping from the high street, let alone linking to the train station.

Another entertaining paragraph details how the parking requirement predictions are based on the ratio of cars to households in 2001 for Wendover. This pivotal ratio includes council housing, farms and many pensioners. Therefore it will not be long before the insufficient green on the plans will be converted to parking by the new residents.

In Short, it just does not work. The outline-planning permission specifies a maximum not a target for the density. These planes should be rejected with an instruction to the planners to give more weight to the quality of life of the new residents and their neighbours.

There are a few aspects that are not the direct responsibility of the developers that need addressing:
There are no plans to add new bus routes to link the development either to Wendover train station or to Tring train station.
More parking should be created for the visitors to Wendover High Street.
The outline permission stipulates that the Clocktower junction should be improved to cope with the extra traffic. This should be done in keep with the tranquil character of Wendover. We hope the Horse and Jockey fiasco is not an indication of what we might experience.
A cycling path should link the development to the Schools (Halton School and John Colet), Wendover town centre, and the train station.
The Health facilities and resources in Wendover should be augmented. We can not find any trace of the promised provision for a health sub-centre on the development site.
The train capacity should be enlarged either by adding carriages or more trains.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Three Cheers to AVDC Cycling Team (Bike It)

A few years ago the Wendover Parish Council sent, on my request, a letter to Chiltern Rail. The letter pointed out the inadequacy of the existing cycle racks at the Wendover station as they were exposed to the elements and insufficient. It also appealed for a solution to crossing the rail tracks for wheeled punters (prams, pushchairs, wheelchairs, bicycles and suitcases). The response was more than disappointing.

Last year I contacted AVDC on the same issues. Two people took on the tourch. The liaison officer (with Chiltern rail) has given me hope. Lee Stevens of the cycling team got the ball rolling for the cycle storage. Lee has moved on within AVDC. Several people have come and gone and I was afraid the task would be forgotten. Not so.

Simon Glover, of the bike it team, visited Wendover last week to inspect the installation. Here is a photo from today.


Tuesday, 15 January 2008

An email to BCC Highways On Call about Manor Road

From: Eli Y. Kling []
Sent: 15 January 2008 14:32
To: HOC@BucksCC.Gov.ukCc:; Fiona Lippmann

Subject: Manor Road & Wharf Road in Wendover 185216

Dear Madam or Sir,

I am the Neighbourhood-Watch area coordinator for Wendover and a resident of Manor Road.

When I introduced myself to the residence of Manor road, all raised the traffic as a major concern. They all told me about a consultations that took place in 2006 (I moved here June that year). But no one can tell me what came out of that consultation. Some raised the concern that the residence of the new
development (Princess Mary Hospital site - 400 households) would use these roads as a shortcut instead of Tring road.

I also attended a few meetings of the safer roots to school at the John Hamden were traffic issues on these roads were lamented.

There are a few issues that I feel need addressing;
The top of the road is a hill that ends with a bend:
Cars wiz down the hill but cannot see beyond the bend.
Neighbours told me of cases where the school buses did not manage to negotiate the hill in bad weather and hit parking cars.
Drivers approaching the hill rev-up (usually already in Wharf Road)
Parking cars all along the road narrow the road into a single lane and a head on collision is a permanent risk.
During the School-Run in the morning and afternoon the road becomes highly congested. The situation is aggravated due to the school buses that park on Wharf Road – not much road is left for cars coming both ways.
The corner of Wharf Road, Manor Road and the entrance to the school is complicated for the Children to cross. Rightly, a school safety patrol (lollypop person) was deems necessary.
The road is used as a (false) short-cut also by lories.

I believe that probably one of the reasons the previous consultation on traffic calming did not result in action is that there were many options presented and no agreement could be reached. If a targeted consultation was placed to the residence it would be much easier to campaign in its behalf (a task I would happily take upon myself).

To my opinion two actions could improve the situation:
Make the roads into a one way system. This has several benefits as not only will it reduce the risk of head long collisions, it will also address the conjunction at school-run-time. I spoke to about 20 residence and all said they would support this suggestion. In which way it should go is another matter. There are arguments in both ways. I think the system should slow from Tring Road to Aylesbury Road:
This is the preferred direction for the school buses that park on Wharf Road.
The exit from Manor Road to Tring Road is not pleasant (mainly turning left) whilst the exit to Aylesbury road is through a roundabout.
This direction will be un-attractive to the commuters coming from Halton and the development on the Princess Mary Site: In the morning it would be congested due to the school run and in the evening they will not be able to drive up the one way system.
Very low speed rumps or bumps (something like – People have objections to the “speed ramp hills” that might damage the cars.

I would start with the ‘one way’ solution as it seems to me easy to implement.

With Regard,
Dr. Eli Y. Kling

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Sign of Our Times

Coming back from my Yule vacation I learnt about two sad losses to Wendover. The fire at Brook House and the death of one of the trees on the Manor Waist.

An interesting Idea was raises at the Parish Council meeting last Monday: erecting a village sign instead of the Tree. I am not sure why it should come instead of the tree as the costs are not equivalent and there is enough space on the Manor Waist for both. Councillor Prior provided me with a link to the Village Signs Society where examples are displayed. I turned to google in an attempt to understand why would we want such a sign. There were many entries amongst the top hits were:

The Village Signs of East Anglia;
Team Triplet;
And Village Signcrafters.

It seems that these signs are very popular in certain parts of the UK (and Europe). But when I tried to narrow down the search to village signs in Buckinghamshire I did not get interesting hits (apart from my letter to the Bucks Herald).

I have no particular objection to a village sign as long as it does not come at the expense of trees or the good people of Wendover. i.e. someone should donate the sign. The many examples I saw whilst searching the net suggest other sites in Wendover could be considered for such a sign (e.g. the meadows, the pond, near or on the Clock Tower).

In short, I would like to see the tree on Manor Waist replaced be another. Even better, I would be happy to see more trees along the High Street altogether.

On the top right of this page you will find a survey that will end just before the next Parish Council meeting.