Gloucestershire Campaign to Protect Rural England

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CPRE Gloucestershire Rural Excellence Awards Ceremony 2019

Wednesday, 13 November 2019 20:33

Westbury on Severn Church Westbury on Severn Church


13 November 2019

CPRE Gloucestershire’s Rural Excellence Awards – now in their twelfth year - recognise developments which are outstanding in their contribution to the environment or the local community, and which are exemplars of good practice.  The 2019 Awards presentations took place today when seven awards were made celebrating some of the very best of the county’s building developments and projects.
Since its awards scheme first began in 2007, CPRE Gloucestershire has celebrated and highlighted 67 innovative projects throughout the county.

‘It is good to see to see continuing interest in our Awards.  They are about celebrating projects both small and large that are outstanding in their contribution to Gloucestershire’s environment.  There is much to celebrate, including great work by local communities and volunteers.’ Richard Lloyd, CPRE Vice-Chair

This year, CPRE Gloucestershire has received some incredible nominations that demonstrate the creative and innovative work going on in our rural communities. The seven awards include awards for: the re-shingling of the 160-foot church spire in Westbury on Severn where over £1 million was raised to cover the spire in oak shingles hand clefted near Newent; for the volunteer led regeneration and enhancement of the setting of a Grade II listed obelisk in Chesterton, near Cirencester; and for the restoration of the Scarr Band Stand in Sling where music performances have restarted with great success.

‘This year’s CPRE Gloucestershire Awards, as in previous years, are great examples of positive change in the countryside.  We are delighted to be recognising such a variety of high-quality initiatives that are having a hugely positive impact on their local area.'Professor Patricia Broadfoot CBE. Chair, CPRE Gloucestershire

Award Recipients

Bells Field, Coleford

Coleford is now the proud possessor of a splendid new 9 acre park and recreation area, the brainchild of the Town Council.  This has been a huge project which has cost over a million pounds and taken six years to achieve from the time the land was purchased from the County Council - five years in the detailed planning and a year in construction.  This is a park and recreation area with something for everyone and has been designed in close consultation with the local community, to good effect.  Facilities include a multi-games area for all types of sports including tennis, basketball and football; a skate park sculpted into the landscape; and a BMX bike pump track.  A fully accessible perimeter path leads to a trim trail and an amphitheatre suitable for small theatrical and musical events.  Further on it passes an area managed specially for wildlife with a pond; and a sensory garden created to mark 100 years since the end of World War 1.

Chesterton Obelisk Project

Close to the Roman amphitheatre in Cirencester at Chesterton is a fine Grade II listed obelisk.  It is thought to date from the middle of the 18th century and is possibly part of the original Cirencester Park landscape.  Over time the obelisk became isolated and neglected and was largely obscured by vegetation.  But not anymore. Cirencester Town Council recognised the historic significance of the obelisk.  With the support of Aqiva, a local friends group, a programme to restore and enhance its setting has been designed and implemented.  An attractive walking route between the obelisk and the amphitheatre has also been created. Great care went into the landscape design which benefited greatly from a community workshop involving Portus, Whitton Landscape Architects and the Gloucestershire Landscape and Garden Trust.  The outcome was a carefully thought out planting scheme with a wide range of plants, shrubs and trees, many good for biodiversity. Much of the work was done by Aqiva volunteers and the Cirencester tree wardens.  Feedback has been very positive.  The result is the transformation of a scruffy overgrown area into an attractive, much visited and well-loved location. 

Maisemore Milestones Restoration

Maisemore village lies on the route of the Gloucester to Worcester turnpike via Upton-on-Severn.   In the late 1700s the Gloucester to Worcester Trust required the erection of milestones.  These were placed at mile intervals and marked the distance from Gloucester measured to a toll house at Westgate Bridge. In Maisemore Parish the route was realigned in the early 1800s and is now the A417 and replacement milestones were erected.  There were three milestones in the Parish but by the beginning of this century two had disappeared. This project, the brainchild of the Maisemore Local History Society, has seen their recovery and reinstatement. Milestones in each parish were different, those in Maisemore being limestone posts bearing a distinctive iron plaque with the distance to Gloucester marked on it and with the old spelling of GLOSTER. Replacement plaques were sourced from an iron works in Telford and fitted to the milestones.  It was big job to reinstate Milestones 1 and 3 as close as possible to their original locations.  This was successfully achieved with the help of Gloucestershire County Council and a local contractor ‘Compete Utilities’

St Francis, Theescombe

St Francis is a family home in the small settlement of Theescombe, near Amberley in the heart of the Cotswolds.  It overlooks the Woodchester Valley. This Award is for a highly imaginative and successful building project which has applied a unique design solution to the remodelling of an existing grouping of 18th century traditional Cotswold stone buildings to exploit their magnificent setting and create an outstanding, contemporary family home. The original building complex comprised a cottage and a garage at a lower level together with a linking structure.  The cottage was oriented north/south with views parallel with the valley.  Extensive remodelling has opened up and integrated the whole structure allowing views east/west through the building as it drops down the valley side and providing a 180 degree panorama over the valley.

Scarr Bandstand, Sling

The Forest of Dean is renowned for its brass bands. Sling had its very own bandstand, the Scarr Bandstand, where local bands played for over 100 years.  In its heyday several thousand people would gather to watch the bands and raise money for good causes, and bands came from all over the Forest to join in. Sadly, by the early 1980s the bandstand had become derelict.  Roll forward 30 years to 2015 when a community campaign was launched to restore the bandstand to its former glory.  It is led by the energetic Friends of Scarr Bandstand which now over 80 members. The idea of restoration was widely supported locally by Forestry England, The Foresters Forest Landscape Partnership, the Parish Council, the Coleford Area Market and Coastal Towns Initiative Partnership, the Arts Council, and not least local charities and business groups.  Great progress has been made.

The Barn at Severn and Wye, Chaxhill

The Severn and Wye Smokery is located on the A48 at Chaxhill. This is a highly successful business which relocated to Chaxhill in 1999 to a new purpose-built fish processing plant.  This was totally renovated and further improved in 2007.  The enterprise also included a small, delightful wet fish and delicatessen shop and a restaurant.  In October 2017 the shop and restaurant was relocated again, but only “next door” to The Barn.  This old former agricultural building has been carefully renovated by a team of artisan craftsmen.  On the ground floor is a fish market, chef’s larder, gift shop and café.  On the floor above there is an open-plan restaurant and state of the art theatre style kitchen. A feature of the restoration is that it has been carried out using locally-sourced materials wherever possible. The stone structural walls have been refurbished using Forest stone, and the roof is mainly locally sourced timber and slate with inset solar panels.
Westbury on Severn church spire re-shingling

Travel through Westbury on Severn where you cannot fail to notice the parish church with its 160 foot spire clad in oak shingles.  The spire is a local landmark and it looks absolutely magnificent after a major project which has seen all the shingles replaced. For a small community, this was no simple project and as the renovations began it became clear that substantial additional work was needed to the structure of the spire.  The final bill reached a staggering £1 million, double the original estimate. The church is a rare example where its tower is free-standing.  It is thought it was built in around 1270 and the spire added in the 14th century.  The tower is Grade 1 listed. Last renewed in 1938, by 2008, the shingles had reached the end of their life.  It has taken 10 years of tireless fund raising by the Parochial Church Council to get the necessary repairs completed.  National and local bodies, many individual benefactors and local fund-raising events have all contributed to meeting the costs.
The oak for the new shingles came from Parkend and they were hand clefted near Newent giving a boost to the local economy.

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