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Ash Aspect: Huge Challenge For Residents’ Association’s New Chairman

Published on: 14 Jan, 2019
Updated on: 16 Jan, 2019

By David Reading

A friend paid me a visit over Christmas for the first time in five years. As he drove along Ash Lodge Drive he thought he was in the wrong village – such are the changes that Ash has been going through in recent months.

These changes represent a huge challenge for John Dymott, the new chairman of ASHRA, the Ash Residents’ Association.

The new chairman of ASHRA, John Dymott.

John has taken over the role from Graham Eyre, who co-founded ASHRA almost 10 years ago and has worked tirelessly representing the interests of local people.

Probably the central issue facing John and his committee is the new estate of the 482 homes now being built on the land south of Ash Lodge Drive. But this is just a part of the whole picture. In total, up to 2,000 new homes have been allocated to the area with a likelihood that these will be built within 10 years. Planning permission has been given for many of these homes, so perhaps the main objective now is damage limitation.

John Dymott is the sort of man whose career has prepared him for something like this. He is now retired after working for 40 years in the gas industry, where he was involved in the construction of high-pressure pipelines before moving to planning and design of gas infrastructure both at home and abroad.

As a consultant, he undertook due-diligence projects for commercial organisations wishing to buy gas networks and for the energy regulators both in the UK and overseas. He moved to Tongham three years ago from the neighbouring borough of Surrey Heath.

Asked about ASHRA’s challenges, John said: “These are early days but from what I have found so far, ASHRA needs to be as involved as possible on influencing the decision making around new development sites in the area and how they will affect the flow of traffic and drainage.

“My particular concern is how the increase in traffic will affect the safety of the children getting to and from school, children at play on LEAPs (local play areas) with heavy vehicles getting to and from site. There is also the significant impact on those who undertake the daily commute. These concerns extend to new infrastructure projects such as the proposed bridge.

“Impact of the developments on Manor Road and the rest of Ash needs to be fully understood and explained.

“Children’s safety is a particular issue. A lot of children walk to the schools in Ash and there are serious road safety issues particularly at road junctions such as the junction of Ash Lodge Drive and Manor Road. I will be keen to hear what the council has to say on this.”

Ash Lodge Drive – leading into the new estate currently being built.

With specific reference to the development south of Ash Lodge Drive, John said numerous issues were of concern including primary healthcare, schools, and potential flooding risk.

“All of these points concern me,” he said. “I’ve a lot of research to do. With assistance and guidance from members of the ASHRA committee, I’ll be looking over the proposals, objections and responses that are also available on the borough council website. I hope that residents will make an active contribution by reporting to ASHRA, any difficulties they experience due to on-going works.”

The man who is handing over the reins, Graham Eyre, co-founded ASHRA directly in response to Bewley Homes’ plans for the land south of Ash Lodge Drive. He was deeply concerned that issues such as potential flood risk would not be addressed adequately.

But he hasn’t left behind the issues that are troubling local people – he will be standing as a Conservative candidate in May at the parish and borough elections.

“I have had a lot of people asking me for years to do this and they finally persuaded me,” Graham said. “Hopefully I will be able to make a difference for the people of Ash and Tongham.”

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