You may have noticed if you’ve been past it, the last remaining Woodlands sign is showing serious signs of deterioration. This sign and its twin which was located at the other end of Bargrove where it meets Northfleet Close were originally installed by the original house builders of Woodlands.
The original at the Northfleet Close boundary I’ve been told was damaged by youths and subsequently demolished (that’s before my time) and the only thing that remains is the foundations if you look closely in the grass on the northern side of the road where it meets the footpath.
The one at the top end of Bargrove Road, as you can see is past it’s best.
Now normally it would be the owners responsibility but no one accepted they owned it (MBC/KCC/Parish Council etc). It had to belong to someone; I believe folks have tried in the past to find out who it belonged to and failed. So with this in mind I did a bit of digging and leveraged a friend in the planning side of Highways England to assist in land ownership.
I’m not going to say it’s strange but this is who owns the land with the sign on it along with various roads in Vinters – Taylor Woodrow Holdings. The red spot marks the sign just at the lower boundary.
Now it’s taken five months of back and forth with Taylor Woodrow (who you might have guessed are a nightmare to deal with on their External Works Team and the weird way you can’t communicate with them directly). Let’s just say they’ve been told twice that despite what they keep telling me that the sign is indeed their property. They’ve finally agreed and given us permission to repair it. I have also asked (and chased) them if they’d be willing to contribute to the costs given that it’s theirs and the extended duration its taken to get this moving forward; I await their reply.
With this in mind, I’ve asked a few local builders for a quote to restore and protect the brickwork and signage of the existing sign.
These quotes are to demolish the existing sign and then rebuild (using the same central signage once it’s been cleaned up) but with new similar matching (or as near as we can get) bricks and ceramics so it looks new.
****. Obviously these costs are estimates now, given the price changes of material etc recently they’re as good as we’re going to get at the moment.
The second sign, sadly removed many years ago was at the corner of Bargrove and Northfleet Close. I have communicated with Maidstone Borough Council (the owners of that small strip of grass), and I’ve been advised we can rebuild it without planning permission as it was existing; which compared to dealing with Taylor Woodrow was a breathe of fresh air.
The second sign location, for those that don’t know was located on this little strip of land which is owned by MBC.
Now if we also wanted to rebuild this second sign, the costs would be similar but there would be an additional cost of £670 for the Woodlands sign plaque and engraving. (Vat included).
Now the reason for all this is primarily two fold ; A: to keep you advised and B: see if you’d be willing to contribute to the restoration of the sign.
I can understand people in Vinters not being interested in contributing but perhaps the people who live in the Woodlands section of the area would like to contribute towards the restoration and keep the area looking very presentable?
So do we do nothing to it; do we restore the existing sign or are people up for restoration and rebuilding the second sign. ? Let me know.
If you’ve got any questions or even give me an indication if you’re interested and you’re not following this on the Facebook pages where I’ve put up an update which just links to this page, click here to email me. and do let me know your preference and where you live (just so I can gauge the overall consensus). I know of one person having a problem clicking the link – if you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me your address and if you’re a yes or no.
Once I’ve got a good handle on the interest and likely cost (if it’s a straight divide) I’ll get back to everyone.
Craig at 79 Bargrove.
UPDATE 1 : Emailed to all initial respondents.
Just as an update as it’s been three weeks or so since I did the mail drop to all houses in Woodlands which I thought should have been long enough for people to respond one way or the other allowing for holidays etc.
My going in position has always been to try and get the owner (Taylor Woodrow) to rebuild the sign if they had a responsibility to maintain it. However they have confirmed today, as I feared, that there is no S106 (open space) legal agreement, nor a S38 (highways) agreement that exists for them to maintain the sign. If the sign became unsafe, they would be instructed make it safe which they would do by just removing it.
The fallback position was to have the residents contribute to the repair/rebuild hence finding out general interest which sadly looks like the only option that remains.
Out of the 159 houses in the estate, I received 48 responses of which only one declined to contribute.
The breakdown, if you’re interested of the responses is as follows :
As a reminder the estimate costs were :
I’ll increase the costs by 10% just to give us a better estimate of overall costs to allow for material increases as I previously mentioned.
Since the interest from residents are 47 in number, I’ll use that in the calculations for a cost per household. Obviously if more of your neighbours get in touch if they haven’t already the cost will reduce.
Having spoken to Ian Chittenden, he has generously offered £500 from his devolved budget which we’d have to apply for through KCC but that shouldn’t be an issue, I’ll also include that in the calculations.
I’ll base the costs on the cheapest quote we have; all of which are from local builders.
What do you think ?
I know some of you commented that you’d be willing to contribute a nominal amount, and others have said; yes just let me know how much. I don’t know how these amounts fit on your acceptable contribution scale.
So with this in mind; can you let me have your thoughts on whether we do one, both or now that you’ve seen the costs to rebuild feel that it’s too much and we just let it fade away.
I’ll collate the feedback to see where we stand and of course let everyone know in a further update.
If you managed to get this far, well done.
Update 2 : Emailed to all responders.
An update on where we are with regard to the sign restoration. I would have liked to have sent this out earlier but even now I’m still waiting on responses from a couple of residents despite chasing.
Firstly, thank you to those who have responded. Nice to know that there are others who consider keeping the good looks of Woodlands rather than let it slowly degenerate.
We’re slowing getting there towards actually getting something done.
I did a targeted mail drop to those that didn’t respond to the first mail drop which garnered a further 9 responses which will help.
So the breakdown of responses for the decision based on the costs of £24.5 for the existing sign and £75.3 for both signs (which was based on everyone selecting that specific option) is as follows
For the updated calculations I’ve made the assumption that if you’ve selected to do both signs and if it didn’t go ahead you’d still be willing to contribute to the restoration of the existing sign if that makes sense, hence the 52 households in the existing sign calculations.
So based on the above responses these are the updated costs.
The eagle eyed ones amongst you will notice that there’s only 52 households used in the calculation for the existing sign. That’s because from the 55 responses, 1 has opted to let it fade because of the costs and two have advised they’ve got no interest in doing the existing sign if the second one doesn’t get rebuilt.
The second sign rebuild cost as you can see is split 30 ways, and is made up of £2387/30 to get £79.57 plus the £22.1 for the first sign giving a total of £101.68.
I appreciate that the costs for the second sign are 30% higher than the original estimates (due to interest) and that many will find that cost unacceptable.
With this in mind and to drill down and find out what should be the final build costs, I’d like those have shown an interest in the second sign to confirm the following :
1. You’re okay with the costs of £101.68 or
2. You’re not okay with the total costs but would still like to rebuild the remaining sign (£22.10) or
3. You’re not okay with the total costs and have no interest in rebuilding the remaining sign.
If that could be done in a timely manner that would be excellent. So if you advised me that you wanted both signs done, just reply to this email with 1,2 or 3 and I’ll keep tabs on them.
All being well, the next update from me should give us all final costs and we’ll definitely know what’s going on with sign 1, ideally a decision on the second sign would be nice too, but I fear that the increase in costs may have people changing their minds. Obviously as soon as one of the second sign responders selects option 2 or 3 the costs will increase for potentially all.
I hope that all makes sense and I know it’s dragging on but I don’t think there’s a fairer way to get the costs split evenly.
I have some good news, some more good news and potentially some bad news.
Firstly thank you to all that have responded to my emails and helped moved this forward. I am still waiting on a few responses but we’ve got to draw a line in the sand somewhere so these figures are based on folks that responded to my last update seeking input. Those that didn’t respond still can as it could potentially make it cheaper for all.
Good news part 1.
I’ve completed the paperwork and submitted it to KCC for the money that Ian Chittenden / KCC had offered from his devolved budget. His submission is for £750 which I think is very generous and all helps both keep the costs down for us all but also helps with keeping the place look nice.
Good news part 2.
With the original interest in the existing sign, plus commitments from others who were interested in the building the second sign who would also like to contribute to the existing sign this brings the figures for the remaining sign to be :
Obviously, these are still a fairly accurate estimate but it’s good enough to move forward. See later.
Not so good news.
Obviously my last update had more accurate costings for rebuilding the second sign based on those that expressed an interest.
The last costs for the rebuilding the second sign were based on 30 interested parties and came in at cost of £101. That was obviously too much for some folks and we’ve had some drop out at that cost which obviously pushes the cost up for those that are still interested in the second sign.
My worry is that at the cost of £136.05 we’ll have further drop outs, I fully understand that.
So with these figures in mind for the existing sign; I think it’s safe to say we can proceed with the restoration of the existing sign and I’ll get in touch with the builder and get that kicked off. I’ll take your emails as promises that you’ll pay and sort out the invoicing with the builder which will have to be split between the Residents Association to align with the KCC payment, and myself as it’ll just make life easier. I’ll will of course share all invoices so its all above board. I’ll sort out the payments from you all later once I’ve paid the bill but let’s get it rebuild first.
With the second sign I’m loathed to ask another round of questions as I’m sure we’ll have some dropouts, I was tempted to get the first sign rebuilt and then see who’s interested in the second one; that way people can see what it’ll look like, potentially getting more interested parties and that may still be the case.
If those that are interested in the second sign being rebuilt can they answer the two following questions which I think will help decide where the go ahead/not go ahead will be. Think of it as a show of hands at a meeting.
1. Are you still okay with the £136.05.
2. If yes, at what point would you say; no that’s too much.
To give you an idea if one person drops out this is what the costs would be :
I’ll gather the responses and see the lie of the land and get back to just the group that are interested in the second sign.
Many thanks for reading this far. Of course if you have any questions, please do let me know.
================ Update 4
Hi folks – just keeping you updated on the works at hand.
You may have seen that work has commenced on the existing sign. We have had issues with the supply of bricks so as it stands at the moment we’re down to the foundations and it looks like we’ve sourced another matching brick that we can actually get (or so Tony the Bricklayer has shown me). Scheduling in with other works he has, it looks like it’ll be early February for the rebuild.
In the mean time, I took the existing Woodlands signage away and I’ve given it a clean and repainted the lettering so it’s looking much better.
Interesting to note that on the reverse side (the side that was inside the brickwork and no-one has seen) it’s different. When it was originally done they obviously couldn’t decide which kerning to use on the letters so there’s different spacing of the letters on the rear. I think they made the right choice.
I made the assumption that the other long gone sign was of similar construction to the remaining sign but a couple of discussions with neighbours have highlighted that this may not be correct.
Certainly the foundations are smaller so it’s probably just the width of the Woodlands signage that’s embedded into the remaining sign.
In the discussions I’ve had two recollections of what was there; the first aligns with what I thought would be there; brickwork with the sign embedded into it to match the other sign. The second one which disagrees with this is of a rough rock type structure with the signage in the middle almost domed shaped in nature.
If you can remember the design of the sign or may even have a picture of it, let me know, sadly Google Street View only goes back as far as April 2009 and it was long gone by then but an overhead picture I have of the whole estate from 1988 shows it as a square type sign. See below; that’s it popping out from the behind the bushes.
Other things you may be interested in.
Thanking Lisa and Rhys who live across the road from me, they’ve provided me with the original brochure for the houses that are in Woodlands. I’d certainly never seen it and they do make interesting reading.
Anyway, I thought you’d like to see these if you haven’t already and I’ll keep you advised on the rebuilding progress.
================ Update 5
You may have noticed that the once debilitated sign is looking rather resplendent now that Tony Comfort has worked his magic. If you haven’t seen it; do have a stroll past. It’s been cleaned up since I took this photo.
Many thanks to Paul and Mychiela for the use of their electricity and water to rebuild the sign.
Tony has invoiced me and I’ve paid his bill; he has also as per arrangement invoiced the Residents Association to cover the funding that Ian Chittenden kindly contributed towards the rebuild cost of £750. (Remember KCC had to pay it into a charity/organisation account and not a personal one so the Residents Association kindly offered).
My invoice for the remaining was :
Which puts the total rebuild cost at £1750. Not that far out from our original estimate considering the increase in costs of materials over the last year.
Based on my previous email and the interested parties this gives the breakdown as :
I trust you all find that acceptable and worthwhile doing.
So, I’ve got my begging cap out to collect the money. Hopefully the 54 houses are still interested in contributing. I’ve provided payment details below so if you could pay £18.50 into your chosen option, it would be appreciated.
Please use your house number and street name as the payment reference just so I can track who’s paid and tick you off the list.
Sort code : xxxxxxxx
Account : xxxxxxxxxxx
Payment Reference Your house number and street name.
If you’d rather pay by Paypal. My PayPal email is xxxxxxxx.
Add a note with your house number and street name; also please use it to’ family and friends’ so I don’t get charged a premium to receive the money.
If you’d rather just pop it through the letter box that’ll be fine too; just put it in an envelope and write your house number and street name on the envelope.
Pop it through my letter box at xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (the one with the Green Landcover normally on the drive).
So with this in mind – what do we all think to doing the other sign now ? The overgrown brambles have recently been cleared so we can see clearly the existing base and it looks smaller than the existing one.
Previously there were only 22 households interested doing the second sign which obviously put the price at about £100 which some found too much. I’ll be discussing with Tony about a revised cost given the reduction in overall size and what looks like we may need to sort out the foundations. Have a look at the new sign and see what you think. I’ll be in touch once we’ve reworked the figures based on what’s required.