Tuesday 14th September saw over 100 local residents from Chilbolton and Wherwell packed into the Chilbolton Village Hall. Since June the anticipation has been building over what is going to happen with Chilbolton Cow Common.
Those of you who don’t live in the village or must have been sleeping for the last year or so; Chilbolton Common has been a victim of its own outstanding natural beauty. Identified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its rich bio-diveristy, ie the wonderful mix of natural flowers, grasses, animals and birds, it has also become a wonderful place to visit on a hot summer’s day. As one of the few places where the River Test is accessible and safe for children, you could sometimes be mistaken for thinking you were at Sandbanks or Bournemouth Beach.
Unfortunately the volume of visitors is having a detrimental affect on the common, specifically with regards to the parking, so Chilbolton Parish Council has spent the last 3 months looking at potential solutions.
Having seen the announcement in June’s magazine the Chilbolton & Wherwell bush telegraph went into overdrive, with comments ranging from the dramatic draconian, ban everyone and all parking to the more liberal let everyone come and enlarge the car parking.
On Tuesday the wait was over; John Rowles and Liz Blakemore and Parish Council Chairman Jeremy Baines presented their findings and the proposed solutions, after which the meeting was opened to the floor and Jeremy played his part as David Dimbleby perfectly.
The proposed solution is to remove the existing rass parking area and return this to its natural state, with a new gate to be introduced before the sleeper bridge. Car parking will be limited to the area inside the main common gate, which will comfortably allow 14 cars to park, although 18 have been seen parked at one point! For those concerned about the impact this will have, it was interesting to note from the research carried, out that it was very rare to see more than this parked at anyone time.
The Police also assured the floor that they would support these proposals and will provide ‘No Parking’ cones which will be held locally and deployed at busy times, to avoid any repeat of the problems seen in May, along Village Street, when the track was resurfaced and the gates closed.
This was always going to be a difficult decision and there was never going to a perfect solution, however the feedback we have heard over the past couple of days seems to reflect the fact that this is a sensible compromise and takes the villagers opinions into consideration. The final decision will be made in the next few weeks, based on feedback from the meeting, but so far it looks like the council have put together a positive solution.