Friday, 19 April 2019

Residents call for 20mph speed limit through village

MOST residents of Whitchurch think there should be a 20mph speed limit in the village.

In a survey carried out for the new village plan, 128 out of 150 respondents supported the idea, a majority of more than 85 per cent.

Reducing the 30mph limit in the main thoroughfares is designed to improve safety.

Speeding is a particular problem in the high street, which is used by large numbers of commuters from Pangbourne station to park, reducing visibility.

In the past year there have been at least two incidents in which vehicles left the road and ploughed through garden walls.

One respondent said their car had been smashed into twice in the past three years.

Another said: “Cars travel too fast with complete disregard for the buildings and pedestrians.”

However, others said that the parked cars were effective at slowing traffic and claimed the lower speed limit would be unenforceable, especially at night.

Some residents said that if the lower limit was introduced there should not be excessive signage or other measures such as speed bumps which would spoil the rural character of the village.

In response to a question about which hour of the day parking should be restricted to residents only, the most popular answer was 10am to 11am with 44 per cent support.

One villager said: “Congestion due to parking is a significant problem, causing pollution from queuing vehicles and a pedestrian injury risk when crossing the road.

“Since the bridge was closed for a year [in 2013], commuters have become accustomed to using the high street as an all-day car park.”

Another said: “The parking limits should be more than one hour as people will take a chance.”

Only 21 per cent of residents supported building new facilities at the village green, off Eastfield Lane, in addition to the new sports pavilion that is already planned.

Some proposed a new children’s play area, outdoor gym or skate park but the majority felt it should remain an open green space.

Others suggested allowing more one-off events, such as outdoor film screenings or personal training sessions, and more facilities for younger children.

More than 75 per cent said they regularly visited the village maze off Hardwick Road and almost 90 per cent said it should remain a wildlife and picnic area.

Only 22 per cent supported resurfacing Muddy Lane, between Eastfield Lane and Hardwick Road, and just 19 per cent wanted a formal pavement in Eastfield Lane, saying it would spoil its rural feel.

Two-thirds said pedestrian safety should be improved where the high street narrows outside the Ferryboat pub.

A small number said the lane should have a pavement for children walking to the village primary school.

More than half of respondents said the pavements should be regularly weeded.

Only a quarter backed the installation of hanging baskets and just 17 per cent supported entering Britain in Bloom. Only 46 per cent said they would consider hiring the village hall because it is run down compared with Goring Heath parish hall.

Three-quarters supported allowing the new village green pavilion to host community events while half said it should be available for private hire.

Some suggested a curfew to prevent noise complaints.

Twenty-nine per cent of people were happy to see their council tax rise by £50 a year to fund improvements in the village.

The village plan steering group will use the results of the survey to draw up a draft document that should be published early next year. The last plan was produced in 2009.

Jim Donahue, chairman of Whitchurch Parish Council, said he was happy with the number of responses to the survey.

“There are about 300 households in Whitchurch so it is a representative sample,” he said.

“Before we publish anything, we intend to carry out further consultation on traffic and parking issues as these are clearly the biggest concerns and we want to make sure we are making solid recommendations in those areas.”

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