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Welcome to KWAG's May 2022 Newsletter. No.102
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Penpole Point is gradually revealed again  


The stone Compass Dial on Penpole Point throws long shadows as the newly sown meadow begins to establish on the left.  


If you value our work please consider donating to help support our projects. Follow THIS LINK to donate safely and securely towards KWAG's work

This month:

  • Working Party update - The campaign at Penpole Point continues

  • Listed building approval sought on the Iron Bridge

  • Future project plans at Kings Weston 

  • Forest of Avon volunteers finish off 

  • Road closures that may affect your visit. 


Working Party Reminder - Saturday May 14th 
May's working party will return again to Penpole Point again focussing on removing some self-seeded trees, and restoring views and the path just beyond the stone dial. We'll meet again at  Penpole Lane, opposite the school at 10amWe will be working here:

PLEASE NOTE THE ROAD CLOSURE ON SHIREHAMPTON ROAD WHICH MAY AFFECT YOUR JOURNEY (see more below)

Please feel free to come along any time during the day, but we do prefer to be able to do health and safety briefings as a group at 10am if possible. There will be tasks to suit most abilities though this month it will be principally focused on felling smaller trees and clearing undergrowth. We will be able to supply some of the following, but if you have them please bring:

  • Tough gardening gloves

  • saw

  • loppers

  • sheers 

Please come along with suitable clothing for the weather on the day, bring hand-tools if you have some suitable,  and we hope to see you there. Please keep an eye on our Facebook Page in case of any change of location, or call 07811 666671 on the day to find us.

 

Working Party update:  The campaign at Penpole Point continues 
 
Works continues on our Penpole Point project as volunteers carry on clearing undergrowth and undertake natural spacing to keep existing woodland healthy. Our focus in April was at the northern end of the area, but also some targeted areas on the top of the ridge and along its western edge to push back undergrowth.
 
The main work area in the north looked at dense coppices of elm on one side of the path, and on the other side continuing March’s uncovering of the Georgian estate wall. There are some good oaks and evergreen oaks in the area that will now benefit from less competition, and with higher canopies, will grow without obstructing the newly restored prospects. With the area along the path in the foreground opened up it provided the opportunity to undertake some surgery on trees on the other side of the wall to open out vistas across the Severn Vale. Where trees have been removed these are ash or elm which we expect to die in due course. Hopefully, even with the onslaught of spring growth, these views can endure. 

Above, Views over the Severn Vale are revealed
Below: The thicket of elms on the west side of the path along the Point have been thinned and a greater sense of openness restored. 
 
Work has also begun on the west side of the point, to better expose the rugged character, allow a greater sense of openness, and improve long views. It is this work that we hope to continue this month, transforming thick undergrowth into more open woodland, perhaps with some bonus views in the mix!
 
The brambles almost covering the final descent into Shirehampton will have to wait until the end of bird nesting season, and we remain hopeful that the Council will be in a better position to tackle this in the Autumn than we are.  

  
Above: Thinning of self-seeded saplings and undergrowth gives the stone dial greater prominence on the Point
Below: Visually truncated by heavy evergreen oaks, the path down the point turns into a more enticing prospect after volunteer work.  


 

Listed Building approval sought on the Iron Bridge 
 
Many of you will already be aware that the Council has finally submitted its Listed Building application to repair and raise the Iron Bridge. Come November it will be seven years since its closure, and things are now gradually edging towards resolution. However, this is only a Listed Building application, and, because the bridge is being raised and the appearance of the Conservation Area changed, it also requires a Planning Consent to be implementable. We’ve contacted the planner to find out what the issue is here and they are still waiting to register the main application.
 
Proposals still seek to raise the Grade II Listed bridge, but without the unsightly and extreme ramps either side that proved a stumbling block for the Council’s last attempt. The ramps have now been replaced by less obtrusive sets of steps either side of the bridge.
 

Above: Animation showing the impact of raising the bridge, seen from the south 

KWAG’s committee met to look at the proposals, and we still have some concerns about the proposals to raise the bridge, the cost, and visual impact. Particularly we’d like further comfort in knowing what the impact would be looking from the west side towards the Old Inn. Two images in the application suggest the change in appearance, but nothing from the Echo side of the bridge where a raised bridge might look a daunting challenge and stand out in the historic landscape.
 
We recognise that the accessibility of the bridge would not be improved by steps, but already the bridge is not easily accessible because of the terrain either side of it. The Council’s own legal advice now reinforces that accessibility considerations on the Public Right of Way need to be proportionate, and the Listed status of the bridge is less than compatible with full disabled access being achievable.  
 
Below: Animation showing the impact of raising the bridge from the east, looking across the Shirehampton Park from the Old Inn




Broadly speaking we’re keen to accept the principle of design, but not without concerns, and still without genuine answers why height restrictors have been discarded by the Council as a cheaper less impactful option. We’ll request more information before committing to support and share it with everyone if it’s supplied. We understand the Historic England also still question why height restrictors wouldn’t be a better solution, but await their formal consultation before making a full assessment.    


Above: Design details showing the length and height of the proposed steps, and the degree to which the bridge would be raised. 

This raises another warning flag, that Historic England, the Georgian Group, and Avon Gardens Trust haven’t yet been consulted despite the Listed Building application requiring their input. We've been informed that this won't happen until the full planning application is registered. Clearly there will be additional delays in the planning process as the Listed building app has already passed its official determination deadline.

 
We welcome your thoughts on the current proposals, and your comments will help us understand any issues you think are important. We also recommend you lodge your support, objection, or observations directly with the Council Planning department by using their Planning Online website and searching for application 22/01149/LA. Although the consultation and determination dates are shown as expired assessment of the applications doesn’t appear to have begun. We’re buckled up again potentially for a long ride!  

Below: A side elevation showing the height the bridge would be raised above the roadway. 


 

Future project plans for Kings Weston 
 
KWAG’s recent committee meeting agreed to start work on a project to form steps up from the back of Mancroft Avenue up to one of the main paths across the escarpment. The footpath into the estate was formed in the 1940s with the creation of the Lawrence Weston estate, but it’s never been very well connected with the rest of the paths network. We hope that by building new steps the woodland will be opened up to local residents without the need to struggle with muddy root-strewn banks.
 
We anticipate starting this project later this year, subject to securing materials and labour. Volunteers will again be at the forefront of this work, and we hope that our regular workers might be joined by more local residents nearby.


 
We’re also looking to resurrect our planned reinstatement of lost trees on the ancient avenue. It’s been six years since the sad loss of four of the monumental lime trees. Despite hoping to replace them quickly the challenge of the remaining stumps and the ongoing bramble problem in the area meant the idea foundered. We’re now ensuring that the trees are identified by the Council tree team as appearing on the approved list of sponsorship locations before we pay to have the reinstated with new limes.
 Below: Dying trees being  felled on the ancient lime avenue in 2016 (courtesy Bob Pitchford)
The cost of the trees will be £1176, including watering and maintenance for the first three years. All being well we hope to fund raise enough by this winter, and planning season, to have the trees returned soon.
 
If you can contribute to either of these projects we are always in need of funds to support our work. The annual big bulb plant is usually our biggest expenditure, but with your help we hope to expand our parks improvements.
 
If you are able to help we can accept payments by Paypay, By cheque to the below address, or by direct bank transfer to Kings Weston Action Group:
Account name: Kings Weston Action Group
Sort Code: 20-13-34
Account Number: 33567737
 
 
Forest of Avon volunteers finish off
 
After a couple of delays caused by stormy weather in April the volunteers from the Forest of Avon Trust finished of their 10-week stint at Kings Weston with woodland games, tea and hot food cooked on their own camp fire. The volunteers have been coming out every Wednesday to tackle projects KWAG identified around the estate that would meet the Conservation Management Plan. With the Council’s support the team have tackled various tasks, but took to felling laurel with particular keenness.

 
When we met to thank them we found them in Penpole Wood, close to the former Jubilee Clearing, where they proudly showed us their efforts. They’ve capitalised on KWAG’s clearance from a few years ago and have pushed further into the cherry laurel on the southern side of the area.
 
The volunteers have some form of learning disability, but that hasn’t affected their dedication and enjoyment of the work. We’re really grateful for their help, and hope that we might see them on the estate again soon, either with the Forest of Avon or as part of our own regular activities.



 
Road closures that may affect your visit 
 
A new gas main is being laid along Shirehampton Road which will prove a headache for anyone trying to access the public car park or on-street parking on Penpole Lane. The road is currently closed between its junction with Kings Weston Road in the east, and Penpole Lane, meaning the latter can only be accessed from Shirehampton and the car park is closed until the start of July.  
 
The published dates for closures are as follows:
25th April  to 1st July 2022
Phase 1: Shirehampton Road - from Kings Weston Lane to Penpole Lane
 
13th June to 14th October 2022
Phase 2: Park Hill - Shirehampton Road - from Penpole Lane down Park Hill
 
Phases 3-5 will affect the centre of Shirehampton, but not directly affect access to the estate and car park along Shirehampton Road.
 
Sorry for the late notice, but we’ve only just been made aware of this. If you want further details please find them here.


Below: Penpole Point in the 1850s and the same scene today. 





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