Welcome to Harston? Sorting out our ugly northern gateway

Visitors to Harston are welcomed by an unlovely vista: a traffic island full of gravel and weeds. Let’s do something about it.

No painted village sign, no flower beds, no signs of residential life - just gravel, weeds, concrete and a closed pub. That’s what everyone sees when entering Harston from its northern end. Hardly surprising, then, that this is consistently one of the most litter-strewn parts of the village: it looks more like a grim bit of urban A-road than the entrance to what could - and should - be a pretty, rural village.

Whilst we can’t do much about the Vujon, formerly The Old English Gentleman pub, we can do something about the unpreposessing traffic island which commands this bit of the carriageway: after much cajoling, Harston Parish Council has secured £2,000 from Cambridgeshire County Council to tarmac over the gravel and weeds, which it will match, creating a pot of around £4,000 towards the works.

There are two problems with this:

  1. Tarmac, whilst better than gravel and weeds, is an ugly, utilitarian solution which does nothing to soften or ‘personalise’ this stretch of road; and

  2. £4,000 is still £3,000 short of the £7,000 it will cost to do this. Yes, you read that right: it will cost SEVEN GRAND to tarmac that traffic island. Apparently this is due to the fact that the carriageway has to be closed and alternative routes created during the works for safety reasons.

Alternative solutions to tarmac

Having discussed this at our recent meeting, we felt that there must be a better, prettier and yet still low maintenance option for this important gateway into the village. But grass needs cutting and flowering plants need frequent watering; neither are very practical in this location. Then one of our more green-fingered residents struck gold: what about a mixed evergreen sedum bed, the sort that are used for green roofs? Low-growing, hardy succulents that would look fabulous year-round, be great for biodiversity and require almost no maintenance. Something like this:

Funding the project - can you help?

So that is what we are aiming for: a sedum/succulent flower bed which will transform the look and feel of Harston’s northern gateway, whilst doing its bit for wildlife and soaking up a bit of pollution to boot. Regardless of the surface chosen, the price will be about the same as the bulk of the cost is in road traffic management and labour. Now, just the small matter of finding £3,000.

We are offering local residents and businesses the opportunity to sponsor this work. We don’t have a formal scheme in place, we simply invite you to give what you can, though we are very much open to discussions on how we can recognise and promote larger donations from businesses (e.g. a plaque/promo board at the site itself, prominence on this website etc). We’re especially keen to hear from gardeners or garden centres who could donate time or the plants themselves.

If you’ve got other ideas which could help to improve this stretch of road - or other spaces in the village - get in touch or come along to one of our monthly meetings.