Readers will recall that, during May, the Parish Council conducted an online survey seeking feedback from residents on a shortlist of community infrastructure investment ideas that TPC had already shortlisted, while also enabling respondents to offer further suggestions. We received 129 responses, representing around 13% of around 1000 Thakeham households (a respectable return-rate for a survey of this type).
Residents’ approval ratings for the seven investment ideas suggested by the Parish Council are set out in Table 1 below
Support for PC-shortlisted ideas
The key points that the Parish Council have taken away from this process in relation to the shortlisted ideas are:
- Overall, there is a good general level of support for most of the options suggested
- The highest levels of support are for the Rights of Way improvement options 1 (extend footway along the B2139 to access FP2463) and option 2 (resurface Strawberry Lane). There is also solid support for option 3 (improve footpath 2463/1)
- Of the other options, the highest scoring are the ideas of a Pump (cycle) Track, and improving the Abingworth vehicle-activated speed signs
- Lowest-scoring options are Adult Outdoor Exercise equipment and Solar Panels for the Village Hall (46%). Although the latter idea received a relatively low score, we feel that this reflects the fact that the public benefit of this idea is less obvious. As it remains a very promising way to improve the long-term sustainability and value-for-money of the Village Hall operation for the community, we feel that it should remain in the mix for further consideration – particularly given that dedicated ‘green energy’-related funding may available for this, without diverting general funds
Additional resident ideas
Table 2 below summarises the additional suggestions, with brief initial comments on feasibility. In summary:
- Roads-related: most suggestions relate to the Abingworth 30mph zone, including some that WSCC Highways have already firmly ruled out (in some cases very regrettably as far as the PC is concerned, e.g. speed ramps instead of build-outs). The PC already has steps in hand to review further improvements to the northern pinch-point arrangement, but this depends on completion of the Monaghans entrance works, which we continue to pursue, but is currently blocked by a financial dispute. The traffic-calming suggestions for the High Bar Lane/Linfield Copse area (speed humps, 20mph limit) may struggle to meet WSCC Highways’ very tight criteria, but this can be explored further (a process that may be hastened – whether we like it or not – by planning applications in this area).
- Leisure facilities-related: the suggestions received will be reviewed further by the PC’s Environment Committee.
As we made clear in the survey, the delivery of any of the main community investments items is beyond the scope of our day-to-day funding from the resident precept, and depends on the Parish Council receiving further substantial external funding, i.e. principally funds that linked to developments (and most obviously, the 75 houses consented for Abingworth Phase 3). Horsham DC have confirmed that the Abingworth Phase 3 funding is due, but both the quantum and the timeline remained uncertain. In the meantime, we will continue to progress detailed feasibility work on the most promising options above, and also to continue pressing for delivery of existing planning commitments that need to be completed to clear the decks for further evaluation work. In particular, the re-shaping of Monaghans entrance arrangements needs to be completed before further review of issues around the northern Abingworth traffic calming pinch point.
As well as continuing to chase clarification of funding relating to Abingworth Phase 3, and we will also progress costings and the scope for landowner cooperation in relation to the highest-ranked options above. In relation to the idea of a PC-provided ‘pump park’ cycle track, we are aware that location options will be few, and need to be sensitive to various factors including potential noise nuisance.