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Background

 

The roads of the Fisheries are classified as “private streets” (apart from the Rushes which have been adopted by the Council). As such, the responsibility for maintaining the roads rests with the householders, who are deemed to own the land out to the middle of the road.

Although we own the land, including the verges, we are not allowed by law to build any obstruction, fence or wall, beyond the boundary line, that marks the edge of the associated verge. The location of this line can be found in your deeds, and was recorded on the Ordnance Survey maps of the area in 1974.

The roads themselves have been laid down in the dim and distant past by the owners of the estate (thought to be one Annie Smith in the 1880’s), and their original tenants/leaseholders. They have been maintained on an ad hoc basis ever since, with mainly resurfacing on a patching basis in recent times.

Maintenance

 

As a general rule, the patching work is undertaken every 2 years by specialist patching contractors, which has been generally sufficient to keep the roads in a reasonable condition.

Exceptions to this rule have been those area affected by major house redevelopments, where the passage of many heavy lorries leave permanent damage to the sub-structure, as well as to the surface. As a matter of courtesy to other road users, we would urge residents, before undertaking such construction work, to obtain contractual undertakings from their builders to make good any such damage.

Another aspect of the roads in the Fisheries is that they have no inbuilt drainage system, so the verges are the only escape route for surface water to soak away, not to mention the problems of flood water relief. It is essential therefore that the verges provided for pedestrian safety, as well providing a more aesthetical appearance, are not covered by water-impermeable materials.

Worse still are the walls/fences which have been erected, in some cases right up to the road boundary. The Council have recently passed an encroachment policy, which will permit enforcement orders to be issued against major encroachments.

Costs and Allocation

 

On the basis of repairs every 2 years, the road repair cost provision, charged within the subscription fee, of 2 x £140 per household frontage, represents extremely good value for money, when set against the adoption costs which would run into tens of thousands of pounds per household.

We do ask for a reduced sum from the Rushes residents, as they need “our roads” to reach their own houses, but some of them do not choose to act in a neighbourly fashion in this respect.

We would remind you that the survey work which precedes this work being undertaken, is done by resident volunteers, thus saving further expense to the community.



Lighting Provision

In 2012/13, the Council have attempted to shed responsibility for the repair and maintenance of street lamps in private roads/streets, as part of a general cost saving exercise. The FRA have responded robustly by point ing out that the service has always been provided because the public have a right of vehicular and pedestrian access, hence the Private Streets are also a 'highway'. Furthermore, since the Council (or their contractors) installed the lighting system, they have a legal obligation to maintain the lights and provide the electrical power to them. This argument has so far won the day, but we would ask that residents inform us of any individual light failure, quoting the stencilled number on the lamppost itself - location is not sufficient.



Trees and their welfare

Introduction

 

In the roadside verges we have inherited many trees, especially beeches, which add to the rural and leafy character of the area. Trees, like any plants need attention, and eventual replacement. Their lives can often be in excess of 100 years, but with the high water table of the Fisheries, and the ease with which spores can move around sub-surface, we have seen many healthy specimens perish in recent times.

The Council's tree department have also recently taken strong action where householders have covered their verges with tarmac, on the basis that it would damage tree roots. 
Apparently sound trees can develop internal decay systems, which only break out into visible problems late in their development. Adding to the problem is the shallow rooting nature of some of the roadside specimens.

Consequently we have had 2 cases of beech trees falling onto properties in recent years, generating insurance claims, and presenting considerable risk to human life.

Household insurance policies only cover the policy holders against tree damage, if the trees are inspected every 5 years or less. Having been inspected, any recommendations have to be followed up swiftly, or the cover becomes invalid.

For this reason, and because of the more general exposure of residents to roadside (as opposed to garden-based) trees, the FRA conducts 5-yearly surveys undertaken by arboreal specialists using inspection and ultra-sound techniques. These people are not tree surgeons, and have no vested interested in having trees felled unnecessarily.

Following on from their report, which is funded out of the annual fee, the results are shared with householders, and bulk quotes provided for the work identified to be done. The commissioning of the work is then down to the individual.

The last survey was conducted in 2011 – the next will be due in 2016. The results of the previous surveys are kept available for inspection by newly arrived residents.

Cost

 

It is impossible to give more than an indication of the cost of tree works, as they vary according to size of tree, its proximity to property, and the amount of work to be done.

Approvals

 

Technically, only trees within the Conservation Area, or with Tree Preservation Orders (TPO’s) placed on them by the Council require planning approvals to remove or reduce. However, approved tree surgeons will not generally take the risk of starting work without visual proof of Council approval. If the Council then find the tree to be a mature specimen, they may place a TPO on it to prevent he work being undertaken.

The houses along the river frontage, and those Edwardian/Victorian houses to the West of Fishery Road, comprise our local Conservation Area, as is the whole village of Bray. This means that all works to buildings and trees need planning approval.