Two Mile Ash Environmental Group – Position Statement
Ideas for the Central Landscape Strip
Now that the trees and the central landscape strip to the west of One Stop have been saved, the next step is to think about how this key part of our village centre could be enhanced and made more usable as a public amenity. To this end, the Two Mile Ash Environmental Group has put together some preliminary ideas as to how things might become. It now seeks to develop those ideas with the benefit of inputs from its members and, indeed, all members of the TMA community.
This planting strip was part of a set piece design for the centre of Two Mile Ash conceived in the early 1980s. Separating the one way carriageways of the High Street, it is one of the most distinctive features of our local community area. As with other parts of our infrastructure, this area is showing its age. However, in place of the echelon car parking that had been formerly proposed, works that would have effectively destroyed it, the way is now open to refresh and enhance this area to the benefit of the local community.
TMAEG would welcome comments on the ideas that follow. Please e mail or speak to any member of the Committee.
Overall intentions In essence, we believe that this area can be improved at relatively low cost to provide an attractive green walk-through area between the two schools, as well as providing a pleasant communal area for residents to enjoy, a sort of ‘oasis’, as it was in the early days of Two Mile Ash.
When we looked at the central strip as a whole, we thought that the central pathway, which runs lengthwise from east to west, should be made both more obvious as a pleasant walking route and more easily accessible generally. At the moment the pathway is rather hidden away and secluded behind tall shrubs and sections of walling. Also, more could be done to make it user friendly for those in wheelchairs and for parents with children in pushchairs.
Section by section
The central strip is in four main sections (link to High Street plan). Taking these from east to west:
Eastern section (to immediate rear of One Stop) The double avenue of maples is a splendid feature and all 14 of these trees should be retained and safeguarded. They will need proper maintenance, something that has been lacking up to now; for example, some of their lower branches need to be removed, as does the tangle of over mature clematis. But otherwise, they have much to offer throughout the seasons. Even during the winter and early spring, they benefit the High Street by virtue of their scale and the sculptural form of their trunks and branches. Throughout the summer, their beautiful foliage enhances the High Street and provides welcome shade on hot sunny days. And in the autumn, we have the brilliant yellow colours and those distinctive dissected leaves that are a delight to see.
Beneath the tree canopies, the aim should be to open up the views into, out of, and through this area to foster a feeling of security and encourage greater pedestrian use of the path. This could be secured through the trimming back/replacement of the present tall shrubs and, in places, their replacement by new ground cover and spring bulbs. The slabs should be levelled and replaced where necessary. A couple of simple benches might be installed alongside the path.
Central paved area This central paved square connects the two sections of the E-W pedestrian route and forms part of a secondary, north-south, axis leading to the Local Park to the north and a residential street (Kepwick) running to the south of, and parallel to, the High Street. The total area will be reduced slightly in size once current plans to provide parking spaces at each of its corners are implemented and those plans provide, in addition, for some reduction in size of the two existing brick planters. But essentially, this area will remain a focal point for pedestrian movement.
There is a need for some relaying of slabs and other minor repairs. Ramps might be considered to improve accessibility for north south movements and brick planters need to be replanted with evergreen and flowering shrubs to provide year round interest and attract wildlife such as butterflies. We see possible opportunities for local children to become involved in the planting work and in caring for the plants.
Western section We see the western section of the landscaped strip as posing rather a greater challenge in design terms. The section contains three linked spaces bounded by walls and shrubs. We see two possible routes for the central pathway. One would be for it to continue to follow its present ‘zig-zag’ path, this to be accompanied by an opening up of views in and out of the area through a reduction in height of some of the walls and the trimming back of some of the taller shrubs. The second option would involve the creation of a straight route through, entailing some minor demolition where walls are in the way. As with the first option there would be a need to lower some of the other wall sections and trim back some of the shrubbery. Where possible, and consistent with the need to open up this area, existing shrubs should be retained.
We see this section as having a generally open aspect, particularly as seen from the south. In terms of its use and its design, it could provide a sunny counterpart to the more shaded area provided by the eastern section of this landscaped strip. With that in mind, some seating should be considered, possibly to be complemented by some new planting.
The western end This section comprises a curve of maple and other trees which enclose the central landscaping at its western end and, beyond that, up to the junction with Corn Hill, a grassed area facing Ashbrook School. This area is blessed by its displays of crocuses in the early spring.
Relatively little change is needed here. The installation of suitable bollards would deter overrunning by cars and the rutting of the grassed areas. The crocuses, which are close to the carriageways, might beneficially be supplemented by new bulb planting, while drifts of daffodils/tulips might be planted further back, towards the trees.