At the December meeting of the Parish Council, Colin Eversden, Senior Project Manager for Dorset County Council, gave a briefing on the new school project. The design details should be completed very shortly, and the whole project will then be priced and put out to tender in the Spring. We are hoping that the de-registration of the Souls Moor common land could be in place perhaps by the end of February.
The critical work thereafter is the construction of the new access drive over Souls Moor, and the alterations to the junction layout at Southbrook, so that construction vehicles can gain access to the school site itself, in order to start work in late spring/early summer. Junction improvements are required to enable access to the new works, but negotiations to buy some land on the North side of the Southbrook junction are not straightforward and could affect the project implementation. Therefore, an alternative junction layout has been proposed to reduce the amount of land purchase required and to provide immediate construction access. Unfortunately, this means removing the much-loved lime tree that sits in the middle of the road.
The Parish Council was determined from the start to try to retain the tree and the proposed designs up to now have managed to do so, but we are faced with the hard fact that either the tree is removed or the junction cannot be improved to enable the access road and the school construction to go ahead. The Parish Council has, therefore, asked Dorset County Council, through the project manager, to undertake a professional survey of the tree, to see if it can be lifted and replanted nearby. It is felt, however, that it is unlikely that this tree would survive that process. With great reluctance, we therefore took a vote on removing the tree, and it was agreed unanimously that it should be moved.
We will ensure that if it indeed proves impossible to replant the existing tree, we will plant a replacement tree of suitable size nearby, partly as a commemoration of the one sadly, but necessarily, felled and partly, perhaps, in the celebrations of the opening of the New School in 2016.