Alresford Market Town Healthcheck
Although Alresford is a wonderful place to live, in conversations with shop owners, the commercial sector, doctors, residents, including those from nearby villages, and tourists, there were a number of 'perennial groans' . There was often no one organisation responsible for solving the problem, but it needed the cooperation of several, perhaps the Local authority and a local voluntary group.
There needed to be a plan for change in Alresford. A plan had been written earlier in 2005 by a small group of people but it had not received universal acceptance, as it was felt to be based on anecdotal information, not evidence, so it had been shelved.
What did the group find out from the Healthcheck questions and what is being about it?
Three main areas emerged as a strong need
- Affordable housing
- More things for young people to do
- Putting Pedestrians First
In many cases the answers seem like just good sense - but the actual evidence is what makes this a different study.
The points raised are listed under the Working Group Headings.
Pedestrians and buggy users felt that there were a number of places, particularly on rural routes and routes over the railway line, where they felt that vehicles took priority.
Hampshire Highways are considering enhancements for Sun Lane Railway Bridge to improve pedestrian safety. To be involved in a working party please contact ATP.
In the meantime our PCSOs usually escort the After School Club over this part of the route.
New Alresford Town Council is purchasing a lit speed signs to remind drivers of their speed.
HCC asked to carry out an options appraisal for The Soke bridge
Poor parking facilities coupled with poor public transport access from local villages and around the town contributed to late and missed doctor's and other appointments
The evidence has been used to obtain funding from the South East Economic Development Agency, SEEDA, to build an important footpath link and provide additional car parking spaces for the town on Perins School site - work should start in Spring 2009.
Increased use of farm buildings for commercial use was increasing lorry movements through the town.
The busy commercial traffic through the town contributed to this feeling
This needs a long term solution. The recommendations are in the Local Development Plan feedback published by the Town Council.
People want to walk but the railway line and school grounds are barriers creating longer journeys by foot which encourages use of the car.
Part of the SEEDA funding, above, is being used to provide a footpath through Perins, to make a safer route to the town centre and the school.
The elderly population is increasing and there is a need to accommodate more people on sticks, electric buggies and wheelchairs.
The West Street bus stop is difficult to negotiate when the bus arrives.
This is on the list for the Traffic Management working party, contact the Chairman by writing or by email.
Offers open and help available for residents to carry out a local disability survey this year, and ideas for elderly proofing our town and villages are welcome.
The walk to school routes of children still have significant barriers
See Perins footpath and Sun Hill railway bridge, above. There are also plans to address crossing points on West Street, to provide a safer crossing by the Jacklyns Lane junction.
A lack of parking for users of the commercial centre was a real issue, and contributed to the lack of footfall for traders
See SEEDA funding, above.
Lack of car parking space prevented the expansion of the market, and development of a Farmers Market
See SEEDA funding, above.
Successful companies found it difficult to expand in Alresford
Young people wanted to stay in the Alresford area but often found it difficult to find work experience and apprenticeships here.
Alresford, with its low crime rate, high life expectancy, low unemployment is a likely place for entrepreneurs to live and a receptive area to new businesses, but has few live/work arrangements and start up units.
Part of 20 year plan see New Alresford's Local Development Framework - LDF - response
In a town with a significant older population, there are an outstanding number of societies for older people, but Young people needed more things to do.
The Children and Young Peoples Action Group, through the AYA have purchased equipment and will be showing films for young people at the Youth Centre from 2009. Contact the chairman on email
The Town Council is looking again to improve the play areas and acquire new open spaces hopefully to include an area for 'wild play'.
There are a number of smaller venues, but Perins School provides the single largest community space
Improve the central courtyard area in front of the main hall within the school grounds (which are open 24 hours a day) to provide an informal additional public open space for young people and other users to meet and socialise
In a community that is self sufficient for most things, there is a lack of variety of sporting and musical activities: no cinema or swimming for example. To reach either of these adds to the expense of the activity.
See 1 for cinema. Swimming a longer term problem. The Public will be asked more about this in 2009
There was concern about our infrastructure of the town coping with the expansion.
See LDF and response via www.winchester.gov.uk
The lack of affordable housing of family size homes is forcing families out of the Alresford area. There is even less chance of suitable housing of this type being built in the surrounding villages
There is a need to identify sites where this type of housing could be built.
Good quality housing for older people is at a premium in the town and there is not enough, especially for elderly residents moving into Alresford from the villages
A housing needs survey reveals a need for family sized homes. Surrounding villages can't provide land for this.
An ATP working Group has been actively seeking land for this purpose.
The Group continues to highlight need for good quality housing for older people.
Use of brownfield sites within the town has drastically reduced car parking spaces for commercial properties and shops
New Car Parking-see SEEDA comments earlier.
The proposed WCC plans for expansion of Alresford are not universally popular, and there were other feasible alternatives that had not been explored.
Letters submitted objecting to the proposals. Further negotiations underway with WCC to agree suitable wording for future planning.
The Town Council submitted plans with its second LDF submission which avoids the use of greenfield sites and they are urgently seeking conformation from WCC that these proposals are acceptable and will be incorporated in the final document