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Wootton Riverine Restoration project

This page has been added to the Sway Parish Council website even though the works are not actually within the Parish of Sway. This is because there is some considerable interest in the project to restore the meanders to Avon Water between just East of Holmsley Tea rooms, and just West of the footbridge adjacent to Setthorns Inclosure at Mead End. It is hoped that this page will help inform residents and visitors to the area affected by these works - which includes Wootton Bridge car park, Wootton Inclosure, Broadley Inclosure along with paths from Wilverley Inclosure and Setthorns Inclosure.

The project to reinstate meanders to Avon Water is being run by the Forestry Commission on behalf of the Verderers of the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship Scheme. There is a lot of information about the scheme on their website at www.hlsnewforest.org.uk/. Details of the Wetland Restoration projects are here, while the specific details of the Wootton Riverine project can be viewed here. This last link will take you to the page where the latest status as provided by the Forestry Commission can be seen.

A page of Frequently Asked Questions was also added in May 2017.

The project had to be approved by the New Forest National Park Authority in their role as planning authority for the area. Full details of the submitted plans and associated documents can be accessed by selecting this link. The planning application number is 16/00242.

Bear in mind that this page is NOT any official Forestry Commission, Verderers or National Park resource. It is however being maintained by a group of concerned individuals including two Sway Parish Councillors, Cllr Stephen Tarling and Cllr Hugh Marchant. Our purpose is to inform local residents, businesses and visitors to the area of progress and status.

The area will remain open for recreational activities while the phase one work takes place from 25 July to 30 September and they will try their best not to cause any unnecessary disruption to forest users. The Wootton Bridge car park will stay open and to ensure that everyone stays safe they will be putting up signs and information about any diversions to the main tracks that may be temporarily closed to allow machinery to operate. The restoration works will only be carried out from Monday to Friday, so there will still be regular access for people during the evenings, weekends and Bank Holidays.

In 2017, works will recommence on 15th May beginning with the completion of phase 1, then moving on to phase 2.

Some of the pictures (in particular maps and composite photos) in this article expand to larger size if you click on them - such as with these unofficial project status maps.

2016-08-26 Status of project Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window 2016-09-23 Status of Project Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window 2017-08-31 Project Status August 2017 Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window 16-00242 phase 2 Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window


The first thing to note if visiting Wootton Bridge car park or simply passing by that area, is that the road is extremely narrow (particularly over Wootton Bridge itself). Encountering any traffic at all is problematic at the best of times. As the Wootton Riverine Restoration project progresses there is a high likelihood of meeting very large HGVs taking materials into the site or returning to the quarry to collect more. Please be extra careful and remember that there is no footway for walkers or horse riders to use. Share the space wisely.

Here are photographs of the approach to the site from the South (Rising Sun) and from the North (Station Road).

2016-08-04 Approaching Wootton Riverine works from South 2016-08-04 Approaching Wootton Riverine works from North

 


Update Sunday 10 September 2017

The newly refurbished path between the Wootton Coppice Inclosure gate and the Avon Water crossing at point 9 was a tremendous improvement for the marathon runners today. Last year runners were slipping and sliding all over the place, and several almost came a cropper desperately trying to find a safe route through the mud. This year was so different. The path was dry despite quite heavy rain over the past few days. and the hundreds of marathon runners' feet have now compacted the surface extremely effectively (who needs a heavy roller when you have a handy marathon coming through!). The temporary bridge erected for the marathon was perfect for the job. Last year the bridge had to be 100 feet long. This year with the restored meanders, the gap being bridged was considerably smaller requiring just 38 feet of scaffolding and planks. All in all this section of the marathon route was so improved that it made other locations (such as several sections in Wilverley Inclosure) appear somewhat wanting in comparison! 

There is just one thing if the Forestry Commission are reading this. The very short section of track in Wootton Coppice Inclosure going through the gate is still rather soft and muddy. The runners had to negotiate their way through this with caution. But I'm not complaining - honest.

Now, if someone could come up with the funds to erect a permanent bridge here and fix the one down by Setthorns Inclosure near Mead End, what a fantastically accessible route could be achieved taking in Wilverley, Wootton, Broadley and Setthorns inclosures. It would be a tremendous asset to tourism in the area and would have little or no impact on the tranquility of the area because people rarely stray from the path well trodden unless they are forced to through accessibility issues.

The image below shows a montage of photographs taken before and during the marathon. More information can be found on our News page.

2017-09-10 New Forest Marathon Marshal's Montage Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window


Update Sunday 3 September 2017

Despite rain, walked the section of the New Forest Marathon Route through Wootton Coppice Inclosure and over to Wilverley Inclosure via point 9. The photo below shows how much the path has improved in recent days. There is now a 2 metre wide dry track between the Wootton Coppice Inclosure gate and the Avon Water crossing. The second photo shows just how muddy and slippery the track would be without this. This new path means that walkers, horse riders etc can access the crossing in safety and that the ground either side should have a good chance to recover. An excellent piece of work and big thanks to both the Forestry Commission and to the organisers of the New Forest Marathon for achieving this.

2017-09-03 path down to Avon Water at point 9 Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window 2017-09-03 path down to Avon Water at point 9 -2 Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window


Update Friday 18 August 2017

The following information received today

  1. Wootton Coppice Inclosure / Brownhills Inclosure works are now complete and they will be withdrawing from this area including removing stockpiles. 
  2. They will not now be commencing on the Broadley phase until early 2018 ( May time)
  3. They are stopping tree work in Broadley now till after the summer holidays and removing logs currently blocking tracks

Update Friday 23 June 2017

The following received today from the Forestry Commission Communications Manager:

As I'm sure you've noticed, we have nearly completed the first phase of the restoration work to the river to the west of the bridge and the date for commencing Phase II (downstream of the car park) is week commencing Monday 26th June.

I wanted to let you know that Sheepwash Lawn ford will be the main area for the stockpile (inside the Inclosure) and access to the channel during the works. I've attached a map that shows the route (marked in black and white) that the vehicles will use to bring in locally sourced material to the site. We advise horse riders and other forest users not to use this route between 8am - 6pm (excluding bank holidays) with contractors working on site between 7am to 7pm, Monday to Friday.

2017-06-23 Phase 2 Haulage Access Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

However, I'd like to reassure you that while this next phase is taking place here, the ford at the corner of Broadley Inclosure will not be affected at all, so can be used as an alternative crossing point and the whole area to the west of the bridge will be completed, so therefore all accessible.

We anticipate that during the final week or two of the project, we may use the ford at the end of Broadley Inclosure, which would mean we wouldn't be using Sheepwash Lawn. We'll make sure that signage is updated on site, but we are keen to give you advanced noticed so you can plan your riding routes.

And finally to reassure you that we are not going to be doing ANY work in the vicinity of the bottom ford during Phase II, ie the Sway end, that links in to the bottom end of Set Thorns Inclosure.

As before, we will make good any disturbed ground on the fords and the associated access routes once the work is complete and the ground conditions are suitable.


Update Wednesday 7th June 2017

The following was received today from the Forestry Commission:

Unfortunately, the recent heavy rainfall events, has meant that work has to stop until ground conditions are judged to be dry enough for the contractors to continue working onsite. The new projected date for commencing Phase II (downstream of the car park) is week commencing 26th June. However, this date may slip back still further if the rain continues this week (more forecast tonight).

I wanted to let you know that Sheepwash Lawn ford will be the main area for the stockpile (inside the Inclosure) and access to the channel during the works. However, while work is taking place here, the ford at the corner of Broadley Inclosure will not be affected at all, so can be used as an alternative crossing point.

We anticipate that during the final week or two of the project, we may use the ford at the end of Broadley Inclosure, which would mean we wouldn't be using Sheepwash Lawn.

And finally to reassure you that we are not going to be doing ANY work in the vicinity of the bottom ford during Phase II, ie the Sway end, that links in to the bottom end of Set Thorns Inclosure.

As before, we will make good any disturbed ground on the fords and the associated access routes once the work is complete and the ground conditions are suitable.


Update Monday 15th May 2017

No obvious sign of any activity in Phase 1 today. Maybe the recent rain has made things difficult for machinery to access the works?

Disappointingly, although we have had very little rainfall since my last visit a week ago, the track down to crossing point 9 that I reported as having finally dried up, has begun to revert back to being a dangerously slippery mudbath.
2017-05-15 Wootton Riverine track to crossing point 9 after small amount of rain Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

What makes this somewhat ironic is this sign that still remains from last year:
2017-05-15 Wootton Riverine notice Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

No amount of time is going to ensure that this track is safe for use. Clearly some form of surfacing work is desperately required before this track can be considered safe to use in any but the very driest conditions.


Update Sunday 7th May 2017

The track between Wootton Coppice Inclosure and crossing point 9 has finally dried out to the point where it can be safely walked.

2017-05-07 Track from crossing point 9 is now dry up to fence and gateway Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

Towards the left of the picture you can see where other walkers have placed branches in order to be able to cross Avon Water to get between Wootton Coppice and Wilverley Inclosures. The reinstatement of a proper bridge at this point would be heartily welcomed by all.


Update Friday 5 May 2017

Email received today from Esta Mion, Forestry Commission Communications Manager

I'm writing to let you know that from 15 May, we are due to start the next phase of restoration work at Wootton (as long as the weather remains fair). My colleague Nick Wardlaw has been in touch with you recently about this work and we are keen to keep you informed as work progresses.

Residents that regularly use the area west of Wootton Bridge car park may have noticed that the restoration work carried out last year made good progress, with the bed levels raised and original meanders reinstated. I've attached two images that show the work, before and after, which I hope you find interesting.

(Follow this link to a page of FAQs where these two photographs can be seen)

As you're aware, we didn't complete all the restoration work to the west of the bridge,
2016-09-23 Status of Project Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

so our first task is to complete that and then move on to the stream to the east-side of the bridge.
16-00242 phase 2 Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

I've attached an FAQs document that I hope you find useful and I've also include information below about the project, as it was nearly a year ago that we started the first phase of work.

Although the site will remain open during the restoration work we will be asking visitors and local residents to the area around the Wootton Bridge car park area to pay attention to safety signs and information regarding diversions to the main tracks that may be temporarily closed to allow machinery to operate safely.

We aim to cause minimum obstruction to footpaths and have taken into consideration the popularity of the area for recreational activities. Only a small number of routes will be affected by the works and alternative footpaths are available, no wicket gates will be affected so riders and walkers will be able to use these as usual.
Construction deliveries to the site will be carried out Monday to Friday, between 8am - 6pm (excluding bank holidays) with contractors working only working on site between 7am to 7pm, Monday to Friday.

Introduction

The Forestry Commission proposes to restore the Avon Water to a meandering stream course and infill it with a redundant section of straightened channel through Wootton Riverine Woodland, in order to meet Natural England's requirements for restoring New Forest Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Area (SPA) AND Ramsar sites to favourable condition.

Background information

This is part of the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme, which focuses on agricultural and environmental improvements and is the largest of its type in Europe.  It has restored and enhanced many internally-important habitats in the New Forest and continues to do so.  This is part of a scheme, funded by Natural England, which is held by the Verderers and managed by them in partnership with the Forestry Commission and the New Forest National Park Authority. The scheme is funded by £19m of European and UK money over 10 years, from 2010 to 2020 and includes:

-        Restoring and maintaining internationally-important habitats, benefiting the thousands of species contained within them.

-        Support for the ancient practice of commoning, which maintains the unique New Forest landscape through grazing by free roaming animals.
 

Main objectives

To restore artificially straightened drainage channels to their natural meander, which will slow the water flow and reduce erosion and downriver flood risk.

To make sure the work is undertaken by highly skilled teams after consultation with experts and local people.

To improve grazing for livestock and restore riverside habitats, which support many rare species of wildlife.

 


Update Sunday 20th November 2016

What a difference a couple of days make. Following storm Angus, Avon Water is clearly utilising its floodplain quite effectively.

View looking upstream along overflow meander at beginning of works near point 3.
2016-11-20 Just upstream of works

View downstream from this point.
2016-11-20 Looking downstream from westernmost point of works

The Western underpass at point 8
2016-11-20 Western Underpass

Views upstream and downstream from near the ford around point 9
2016-11-20 Looking upstream from near point 9 2016-11-20 Looking downstream from near point 9

With the project barely 30% completed, it is too early to say whether it is definitely making a difference to flooding further downstream, however as these two photos taken at Arnewood Bridge following heavy rainfall before works began (9th March)
2016-03-09 Avon Water flooding at Arnewood Bridge

and today,
2016-11-20 Flooding at Arnewood Bridge

there are encouraging signs.


Friday 18th November 2016

Walked from Wotton Bridge through Wootton Coppice Inclosure and down to the ford at point 9 where I still hope a footbridge might still be reinstated. Although the meanders are looking good still, I am deeply disappointed with the pedestrian access to the ford. As can be seen in the photos below it is impossible to approach the ford unless on horseback.

2016-11-18 Gateway to point 9 2016-11-18 Footpath to point 9 2016-11-18 Footpath to point 9 - 2

I managed to scramble around further downstream and with considerable difficulty crossed the new meander with the help of a shingle beach and a long piece of wood. North of the ford the pathway going towards Station Road is considerably drier. Sadly however, somebody has fly-tipped a carpet at the underpass which I have reported to NFDC - ref CS1486183.

2016-11-18 Carpet dumped on path between Wootton and Wilverley inclosures at Station Road eastern underpass Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

If this pathway were able to be better used then such antisocial activities might be less likely to occur.


Friday 30th September 2016

Walked along the main gravel tracks in Wootton Coppice and Brownhill Inclosures. All the machinery has now been removed leaving just a few mounds of hoggin and clay in two of the holding areas, plus a few bales of heather. Ironic that with no more heavy machinery around to worry about when out walking, I was almost mown down by a cyclist who was too busy talking to her companions to notice where she was going!


Wednesday 28th September 2016

Received the following in an email from the project manager:

".....we were unfortunately unable to re-start work on Monday due to the saturated ground conditions. As there was no promise of an Indian Summer this week, we have decided to call a halt to the restoration operations this year. Whilst it is disappointing to not deliver the complete phase, we have successfully completed over two thirds of the Phase One section and it would be our intention to resume with this work next summer, though we will confirm details nearer the time. I have already informed the National Park Authority of this decision."

Today I walked the entire length of Avon Water from Wootton Bridge to the A35 and noted that all machinery has been removed from the immediate vicinity of the works, and most of it has also been taken completely off site. There may be a few HGV movements still to happen in order to transport the remaining machinery so take care. The only works happening now are the cutting back and clearing of some of the woodland around the (as yet) unfinished portion of Phase 1 (circled in red in the map below).

Generally the tracks through Wootton coppice inclosure are in reasonable condition if a little churned up and muddy in places particularly around the material holding areas. As mentioned before, the completed portion of Phase 1 (circled in green) appears to be in an excellent state, simply requiring grass to grow to hide the fact that Avon Water followed a very different course just a couple of months ago.
2016-09-23 Restored meanders 2016-09-23 Status of Project Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window


Friday 23rd September 2016

With just 7 more days to go before the planned end of phase 1 there appears a lot of work still to do. The area already finished looks really attractive and to my untrained eye everything has been made good to a very high standard. I still hope for a footbridge at or near point 9. Even something very simple similar to this temporary one erected at the western end of the current works would be of great benefit if located in an accessible place nearer to point 9.
2016-09-23 Temporary footbridge

The works area is now between OS ref SZ 242 999 and SZ 247 997. Very little of this meander has so far been rediscovered and when I visited today the only activity was clearing wood to make way for machinery. It seems highly unlikely that this long meander will be completed through to point E before the phase 1 end date of 30th September (the start of the season for brown trout to swim up river to spawn).

The Forestry Commission Project Manager has informed us that
"Unfortunately, the intermittent rainfall is having an increasing effect on the ground conditions. Therefore there has been very little opportunity since last Thursday to have machines working on the site. .... We will continue to review the situation during next week. I will continue to speak to the Environment Agency about this situation and see if there is any other way around this. Our priority will be to ensure the area is left in a completed state to whichever point we get to by the end of September cut-off. I will keep you posted when a clearer picture is known next week."

I will update this web page next week when we hear more.


Tuesday 13th September 2016

The 100ft long temporary marathon bridge is gone without trace. Instead the old straightened course of Avon Water is being filled in leaving a ford on the reinstated meander.
2016-09-13 Filling in the old ford at point 9 - 2
Still little sign of much work East of this point 9 as yet.


Sunday 11th September 2016

The New Forest Marathon runners negotiated the muddy conditions around point 9 in the project. The temporary bridge worked really well and many commented on how there should be a permanent structure there. Ground conditions were rather difficult after yesterday's rain but the runners were really careful following the advice of the marshals from Hampshire Search and Rescue. All in all it was a great day.
New Forest Marathon 2016 montage Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window


Saturday 10th September 2016

Rome may not have been built in a day but this was!
Marathon Bridge
I'm not suggesting that this is entirely suitable as a permanent structure, but it does demonstrate that the problem of bridging Avon Water is not insurmountable.


Friday 9th September 2016

2016-08-26 Status of project Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

Works still seem to be heaviest at and just upstream from the ford at point 9 (SU 242 000) although some meanders have been partially dug out to the East of this point. The New Forest Marathon will be coming through this point on Sunday, and I understand they have plans to erect a temporary bridge to cross Avon Water and the newly created meander. I will try and find out more tomorrow prior to the race.

Chatted to the project manager and asked about the possibility of a new footbridge. It seems that there are so many things that have to be considered that the FC see only one solution as described in adobe icon Scheme of Accessibility [3Mb]. I hope that interested parties might still be given the opportunity to discuss options more fully with the Forestry Commission.
FC proposed bridge design Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window


Friday 26th August 2016

It appears that all the works around the westernmost area (point 8) are now complete and that the ford is open again. Walking downstream new works appear to start at around map ref SU 240 001 and continue to just East of the next ford (point 9) where we still hope to see the reinstatement of a footbridge. Now that the new meanders have been rediscovered, it seems that a footbridge at this point would not need to be quite such a massive undertaking as it might appear from the adobe icon Scheme of Accessibility [3Mb]. Unfortunately the very convenient tree trunk used to bridge Avon Water close to this point has now been made almost inaccessible by dumping a load of soil around it. 
2016-08-26 now almost inaccessible bridge near point 9


Wednesday 24th August 2016

Highly disappointingly several HGVs have been taking unauthorised routes to deliver to / return from the works at Wootton Coppice Inclosure. They have also been observed driving without due care and attention to forest animals and riders on horseback. The project manager and the National Park Authority have been informed and requested to investigate.

Failure to adhere to the specified route is a breach of planning conditions. If contractors are ignoring this then they need to be far more carefully briefed. If they repeatedly ignore it then I would hope that the planning authority would take appropriate enforcement action before any serious incident occurs.

The Forestry Commission's Project Manager has confirmed that he has "investigated this with the contractor. The supplier stated that the deliveries deviated from the agreed route due to a road traffic accident on the A35. They presumed that taking an alternative route would be acceptable. However, I would like to assure you that it has been explained to them that this is not the case and if, for any reason, the agreed route is not possible then they are to return their delivery to the yard and not make any more deliveries until it is accessible."

If you see any HGVs failing to take the authorised route to/from these works or being driven without due care for other road users or forest animals, please contact the National Park Authority at dev.control@newforestnpa.gov.uk with full details of the vehicle and date/time/location observed. Please ensure that you only report vehicles that are definitely part of this Wootton Riverine Project - ie that you observe them entering or leaving the works close to Wootton Bridge. They should only be coming via the A35 and Station Road - ie turning right off Station Road, over Wootton Bridge and then turning right into the works. Exiting the works by turning left over Wootton Bridge then turning left on Station Road towards the A35. Click on the map below for more details.
permitted HGV route between Bashley and Wootton Riverine Project Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

You may also wish to contact the Parish/Town Council responsible for any of the areas in which you observe infringements. Click on the map below to see the boundaries of each of the Parish/Town councils in the vicinity:
Parish Boundaries around Wootton Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

Contact details for each can be found by clicking on the links below:

Brockenhurst
Burley
Bransgore
New Milton
Hordle
Sway: or email info@sway-pc.gov.uk


Wednesday 17th August 2016

Confirmation from the project manager that work will generally be gradually progressing downstream from its current site at the Western ford and underpass. So locations closer to Wootton Bridge are unlikely to be affected until towards the end of this phase 1 (end September).


Tuesday 16th August 2016

The following Project Update has been posted on www.hlsnewforest.org.uk/hls/info/134/wootton

Regular users of this area may have noticed that towards the end of last week and the beginning of this week, work has focused on the grading of the river bed around the top crossing point. Unfortunately, whilst this occurs, access will be restricted in order to maintain safety for all users. As soon as work in this area is complete, the access will be less restricted and fully open. In the meantime, for access between Wilverley and Wootton Coppice Inclosures please use the passageway around 400m to the east.


Saturday 13th August 2016

Now that Station Road is reopened fully, I shall not be visiting quite as often - probably only once a week. Therefore if anyone wishes to provide me with their status updates - including photos - then I will endeavour to add to this webpage.

This afternoon I walked from Wilverley Inclosure main car park through to Wootton Coppice inclosure and back in a circle taking both underpasses. All work currently appears to be around the second (west most) underpass - ie between points 1-8 in the Proposed Site Plan. 
16-00242 phase 1 Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

Please note that at this time, the underpass and ford at point 8 are closed, however there appears to be no warning in advance, just the signs actually at the works.

Select here to download a detailed description of my observations: adobe icon 2016-08-13 Update [2Mb]


Thursday 11th August 2016

The traffic lights at the cattle grid were removed at or around noon today so Station road is now finally open again and fully available as the HGV route through to the Wootton Riverine works.


Wednesday 10th August 2016

Traffic Lights operating at cattle grid on Station Road, still there when I drive past at 7pm and also at around 9:45pm.

Very disappointingly, the wide vehicular access gate into Wootton Coppice Inclosure had been left wide open by contractors delivering materials to the Wootton Riverine restoration project. I noted this at 11:25 am. Others have also reported this.

Also, despite numerous warnings and very specific conditions in the planning application, HGVs for this project have today again been spotted driving along Bashley Common Road rather than the specified route via the A35 and along Station Road. The project manager has been made aware of this and assures us it will not happen again. If you spot any HGV movements bound for these works or returning from them using any other route than shown below, please contact us on info@sway-pc.gov.uk. We need to be certain that the vehicle is definitely going to/from these works as other vehicles may be using the route perfectly legitimately. The vehicle registration number would therefore be an important piece of information.
permitted HGV route between Bashley and Wootton Riverine Project Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

Similarly if you spot the gate left open at Wootton Coppice inclosure, please close it if possible and email the details (date and time) to info@sway-pc.gov.uk.


Tuesday 9th August 2016

Station Road opened again sometime in the afternoon. Traffic lights temporarily in use to restrict traffic to just one half of the cattle grid. Word from Hampshire Highways is that these will be taken away sometime tomorrow (Wednesday). "This is to allow the grout under the last of the bases sufficient time to cure".

I arrived at the Wootton Coppice Inclosure just in time to see the workers leaving so they clearly have been quite active today.

Tent has now gone!


Monday 8th August 2016

Contractors on site at cattle grid when I dropped by at 07:45. Grid due to arrive soon. Checked again at 13:30. Rest of grid materials had arrived and they were busy building it. Finally dropped by at 19:30. All the elements of the grid were in place but there are a lot of bolts and nuts missing.

14:45 Latest Official Information from Hampshire Highways. Station Road will re-open tomorrow (Tuesday 9th August) sometime late afternoon or early evening.

Email received at 15:21 from Richard Bastow of Hampshire Highways states:
The nosing is due to be repaired with a  rapid setting resin mortar as the concrete surround is basically sound. It is just the un-reinforced edge  that is breaking away, as concrete has a low tensile strength, and we can deal with this and keep the road open - at least until completion of the Wootton Riverine restoration work.

Wootton Riverine works - site entrance looked quiet at 07:50 so hopefully there will be no HGV movements today.
Walked through the inclosure around 13:00 and they are working on a cross drain just west of the works. They'd had one HGV deliver material earlier so HGV movements are occurring but at a low level at this time. The site manager said that in general, it will typically be just a small number each day.

Tent still there!


Sunday 7th August 2016

Again no surprise but no work taking place either at the cattle grid or in Wootton inclosure. Lots of very happy cyclists - some again with little idea that it is easier to open (and safely close again afterwards) the cattle grid bypass gate than to lift bicycles over it!

I seem destined to uncover a whole variety of aspects of disregard for New Forest bylaws. Spotted hidden deep in Wootton Coppice Inclosure near Avon Water:
2016-08-07 wild camping in Wootton Coppice Inclosure

Please note that wild camping and overnight parking are not permitted in the New Forest. Please use the designated campsites.


Saturday 6th August 2016

Unsurprisingly no change to the cattle grid. Arrived to find bypass gate open - a group of cyclists having just gone through and totally ignored the sign to close it.
2016-08-06 Cattle grid gate left open

Came a cropper trying to cross Avon Water. Fell off the oak tree that is bridging it near point 9. Nothing too serious fortunately - just grazed knee and shin and bruised ego!

As far as I can tell, none of the heavy machinery I saw on Tuesday has moved. There certainly has been no obvious signs of work close to Avon Water. The ground is quite boggy between the inclosure and the watercourse. In spite of this, encountered many walkers picking their way along by Avon Water. Cyclists use the pathways and although not condoning cycling off designated tracks, I see no reason why there should not be an official footbridge route between Wootton and Wilverley inclosures (at point 9 on the FC plans) even if only to avoid them endangering themselves and the fragile environment (photo below taken at point 8 on FC plans).
2016-08-06 cyclists fording at point 8

Back at the cattle grid, witnessed a large group of cyclists coming along from A35 direction. The first one climbed over the gate and had his bike handed over to him.
2016-08-06 cyclists not realising the gate does open
At this point I suggested they might want to open the gate and walk through with their bikes! However I slightly regretted telling them this after discovering that the last one through had failed to latch the gate properly.
2016-08-06 Cattle grid gate not latched properly by cyclists
The latch is quite stiff so have reported it to HCC. Track it number is - 21241606

We cannot stress enough the importance of this gate being closed properly. Serious accidents have occurred through Forest ponies managing to get out onto the A35 because gates have been left open.
If you find it open, close it. If you encounter any livestock the wrong side of any cattle grid please contact the Verderers on 02380 282052 or the Forestry Commission on 02380 283141 or phone the police on 101 (999 if it is an emergency).


Friday 5th August 2016

Talked to the Amey contractors at the cattle grid this morning. They were doing some works to replace the mountings and rebuilding part of the grid. The rest of the grid will be complete this coming Monday.
2016-08-05 Contractors at work on cattle grid
They informed me that the road will remain closed all next week as there is some damage to the concrete surround (they called it the nose) that they need to patch up once the grid is in place. The concrete will then need to cure for at least 4 days before the road can be reopened. So another week with the planned HGV route for Wootton Riverine works being closed. The broken piece can be seen on the right of this photograph. Looking to the left it would appear that similar problems have occurred previously.
2016-08-05 Cattle grid now half repaired

In contrast, I received an email from Hampshire Highways confirming that the rest of the grid will be replaced on Monday, but saying that the road will reopen on Tuesday. So either they are not aware of the broken nose or they have some other solution in mind. Watch this space!

As for Wootton Riverine project, I could not detect any signs of HGV movements today, but there has been some work going on within the inclosure in the past couple of days. A bridge over one of the ditches draining into Avon Water near point 9 has been replaced. Sadly this is not the bridge that we would like to be reinstated. The photographs below show the bridge as it was on 3rd August before replacement and as it is today.
2016-08-03 Old Bridge over drain near point 9 2016-08-05 New Bridge over drain near point 9


Thursday 4th August 2016

1         Station Road closure.  Contractors for Hampshire Highways are carrying out work to repair the cattle grid at the Wootton Bridge end of Station Road which runs from Holmsley A35 to Wootton Bridge.  There are no turnings off that road so they have it closed at both ends
2016-08-04 Station Rd cattle grid partially removed  2016-08-02 Station Rd diversion at A35 end  2016-08-04 Station Rd diversion and closure
Despite closing the road on 1 August, they have been slow to start work, although yesterday, two-thirds of the cattle grid were taken up (see further down).  Apparently BBC Radio Solent this morning announced this has re-opened - it definitely has not! There may not be contractors working on site because they take the cattle grid away and work on it (replace or repair) and then bring it back.

The current prediction is that they may overrun their schedule by a few days - so this will continue into next week. Although statutory consultees on the Wootton Riverine Restoration planning application, Hampshire Highways didn't think to tell the Forestry Commission of this long planned work.  And unfortunately the Forestry Commission having agreed a preferred route didn't think to check the Hampshire Highways web site to ensure the roads would actually be open.  This clash of works is an unfortunate coincidence.  Diversion signs have been posted although some seem to have fallen over - presumably in the high winds yesterday.

2.       Bypass gate on Cattle Grid (an aside).  I've visited the site of the cattle grid at the Wootton end of the closed road a few times recently.  There is a bypass gate (for horses and horse-drawn vehicles) and this has been left open a few times.  This morning as I arrived I saw a cyclist go through and leave it wide open. 
2016-08-04 Station Rd cattle grid bypass gate left open
This gate is to stop ponies wandering - in this instance towards the A35 which was the sort of oversight that caused a recent serious accident: see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-36732486 "New Forest pony crash leaves woman critical"  If you find that gate open please close it.

3.       Routing works traffic.  The agreed traffic plan was a condition of planning permission being granted.  That route was, of course, to use the A35 and the currently closed Station Road from Holmsley down to Wootton Bridge. 
16-00242 proposed access route for HGVs s Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
This route has not been available.  Whilst claiming there was no legal obligation to do so, the Forestry Commission consulted NFNPA Planning who choose not to enforce the condition (so why have it in the first place?) and agreed that the contractors could use another route until such time as the road re-opened.  Some of you have said that since this work has waited 150 years surely it could have waited another week, but the Forestry Commission must be all finished and off site by 01 October so they want to push on. 

4.       GOOD NEWS:  Firstly the Forestry Commission have agreed that for the duration of the road closure they will NOT be sending any heavy vehicles north up Bashley Common Road; instead they will take a long diversion as illustrated below (where red is the closed section and green is the diversion route as far as we know). 
2016-08-04 Temporary diversion route for HGVs Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
So they go down the B3055 Bashley Cross Road to the A35 at Hinton, right up the A35 to turn right again onto the B3058 Holmsley Road and then left at the Rising Sun down to Wooton Bridge.  This is a long diversion and I'm sure we're all most grateful for that.   Secondly the heavy rain the other day has meant that ground conditions are not suitable (contingency had been allowed for such events), so no work took place yesterday or today.  As soon as ground conditions allow, work will recommence.

5.       Signage.  A number of people have commented that signage is either missing or not in a wise position. 
2016-08-03 Forestry Work Sign on ground 2016-08-06 Forest warning sign in Avon Water
If you let me know (preferable with Grid References) I'll pass on those comments.  Again some may have been lost to wind, rain or ponies; and the Forestry Commission are anxious to get their local ranger to improve matters. Email info@sway-pc.gov.uk.

6.       The reinstatement of the bridge.  Agencies involved in the project have all given this a little lip service and then passed the buck.  It could provide another route for locals to appreciate the forest without forcing them to cross at the dangerous Wootton Bridge, but all agencies seem to want to abrogate any responsibility and let someone else decide.  In the scope of the total project this would not be a major expenditure. The Victorians were clearly capable of adding a suitable bridge, but somehow in the 21st century we're not.  It appears we may be reinstating meanders but not reinstating crossing points.
Location of proposed reinstated Foot Bridge Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window


Wednesday 3rd August 2016

No riverine work going on today. Apparently the recent rain has meant that the heavy machinery could not be used without causing too much damage.

Contractors working on the cattle grid on Station Road have removed 2/3 of the grid. This has been taken away to be refurbished and will be returned in due course. The likelihood is that this will be sometime early next week - possibly Tuesday or Wednesday.
2016-08-03 Cattle Grid Removal


Tuesday 2nd August 2016

No riverine work going on today. Assumption is that it may have been postponed until after Station Road was re-opened. Lots of machinery on site though.
2016-08-03 Heavy machinery Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

No obvious sign of any work being done on Station Road. I walked the entire length from the A35 junction to the cattle grid by the Wootton Bridge road. It was a glorious experience wandering along the white line in the middle of the road with no traffic to worry about!


Monday 1st August 2016

Saw work going on in Wootton Inclosure for the first time since the start of the project. 2 New Milton Sand and Ballast HGVs delivering materials to the main works area far into the inclosure. Also a low loader carrying a very large caterpillar tracked earth moving machine entered site from the South having come of the A35 onto the B3058 Holmsley Road.
2016-08-01 Activity at Wootton Inclosure Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

Station Road has been closed by Hampshire County Council. Signs state it will be closed for 7 days. It does not explain why the closure. This is a problem as Station Road was the designated route in from the A35 for all HGV traffic! I walked it from the underpass near point 9 on the project plans to the cattle grid. Lovely and quiet!
2016-08-01 Quiet Empty Station Road


29 July 2016

New Forest National Park Authority give final go-ahead to the project, deeming the  Scheme of Accessibility document to be sufficient to satisfy Condition 5 of the planning decision.


22 July 2016

Forestry Commission submit document adobe icon Scheme of Accessibility [3Mb] containing amongst other things, a feasibility study and proposed design of a footbridge for Point 9 on their plans. Suggestion is that the footbridge is not really being seriously considered.


24 June 2016

New Forest National Park Authority issue decision notice to grant permission for the project. One condition is that within 1 calendar month the Forestry Commission provide a detailed scheme of accessibility for approval. This to include details for the reinstatement of a footbridge at or in close proximity to Point 9 in the Phase 1 plans subject to a technical feasibility appraisal.


21 June 2016

At the New Forest National Park Planning Development Control Committee, Sway Parish Council present their recommendation to approve the project, but ask that it be subject to a condition that a footbridge be reinstated across Avon Water along a pathway that goes from Wilverley Inclosure, under Station Road and into Wootton Inclosure. Older OS maps indicate the presence of a footbridge at this point. It would then allow people to walk between the two inclosures in safety without having to scramble across fallen tree trunks or wade through Avon Water.
Location of proposed reinstated Foot Bridge Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window Current route between Wilverley and Wootton Inclosures Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window


19th May 2016 Sway Annual Parish Assembly attracted 14 members of the public and press to watch an enlightening presentation by Nick Wardlaw and Sonia Lorenzo-Martin on the work that is being planned to reinstate the Avon Water meanders through Wootton and Broadley inclosures.
Wootton Riverine Wetland Restoration map


20th April 2016 Excellent second site meeting concerning the Wootton Riverine Wetland Restoration Project held today. This time representatives from Sway, Hordle and Brockenhurst Parish Councils along with New Forest Association and the New Forest Equestrian Association were briefed on the details of Phase II - that section of Avon water from just downstream of Wootton Bridge, to a short distance before the footbridge at Mead End. This phase of the project will be executed next Summer. Full details are in planning application 16-00242 on the NFNPA Website. Closing date for comments is May 4th.
Wootton Riverine Wetland Restoration site visit April 20


1st April 2016 The Wootton Riverine Restoration Project planning application can now be viewed online. The consultation period ends 27th April. The project is in 2 phases, first upstream of Wootton Bridge this Summer and the second. downstream to Mead End next Summer. It is proposed that construction traffic will be routed from the A35 at Holmsley Tea Rooms, along Station Road, then south across Wootton Bridge, then into the inclosure on the right (this year) and to the left (next year). Full details are in the CONSTRUCTION TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT PLAN of planning application 16/00242 Restoration of Avon Water to a meandering stream course. 

Apologies to any who earlier today (check the date) genuinely believed that the proposal was to transfer Avon Watercourse into a concrete pipe some 20 feet in diameter and that Arnewood Bridge would be made into a humpback bridge, thus slowing traffic there to a reasonable speed! Sadly the latter is not the case and Sway Community SpeedWatch will just have to continue monitoring there instead!
Wootton Riverine Wetland Restoration map


9th March 2016 After around 16mm rain last night, this is the impact on Avon Water at Arnewood Bridge. Hopefully the Wootton Riverine Wetland restoration project will alleviate this to some extent by reinstating meanders further upstream hence slowing the movement of flood water.
2016-03-09 Avon Water flooding at Arnewood Bridge


8th February 2016 Wootton Riverine Wetland Restoration project is coming soon. The Forestry Commission held a site visit attended by NFEA and SPC to show what the project will involve. Planning application processes permitting, phase 1 of the project restoring meanders to the 1..5 km of Avon Water from Wootton Bridge westwards will happen during July and August this year. Phase 2 - the 1.5 km from Wootton Bridge going East towards Sway - is expected to happen in July and August next year. Information will be on display between 4:30 pm and 7 pm on 22nd February at Bashley Football Club, Bashley Road, Bashley, New Milton, Hampshire, BH25 5RY. More information on Wetland Restoration can be found here and information about its affect on flood prevention can be seen here. Click here or on the map to find out more about the Wootton Riverine Wetland Restoration project specifically.
Wootton Riverine Wetland Restoration site visit Feb 6 2016 - 1 Wootton Riverine Wetland Restoration site visit Feb 6 2016 - 2