New road signs at the entrance to Gillingham will bear the words ‘Gillingham – Home to the Royal Forest’.
Town councillors backed the move after a report said that this wording was the ‘most favoured’ among a list of options put forward by the council’s Gillingham Gateways task and finish group.
This group is overseeing the spending of a £70,000 legacy grant from the now defunct North Dorset District Council on improving the look of the main entrances to the town.
Improvements will include sculptures on roundabouts of a hart, doe and fawn, which represent the former hunting forest, which was used by royalty in mediaeval times.
Indeed, the Royal Forest, east of Gillingham, once had a hunting lodge which was visited by Henry I, Henry II and Henry III and in particular King John, who ordered extensive alterations to the lodge and who visited it every year from 1203 to 1214.
The choice of words dovetails with a separate scheme in which Dorset Wildlife Trust secured Heritage Lottery Funding last year for the Gillingham Royal Forest project (GRF), which will run for three years.
The vision for Gillingham Royal Forest project is to ‘collaborate with the local community to investigate the potential to restore; recreate and reconnect a historical landscape whilst make an increasing contribution to the sustainable development of Gillingham’.
Councillors on the general purposes committee unanimously backed the use of the words ‘Home to the Royal Forest’ on new signs into the town.
At the same meeting on Monday 6 July councillors heard that Dorset Council has requested that some of the town’s verges are left so that wildflowers can be established.
A report from the Estate Management and Properties sub-committee said two areas have been identified: an area at the top of Common Mead Lane and the grass verge along the cycle path leading to Milton-on-Stour primary school.
It also said other areas in the town have already been left uncut to encourage wildflowers and that a contractor will be engaged to cut and remove the grass from these sites in the autumn.
‘Love your verge’ notices to inform residents about the benefits of leaving the grass verges
uncut will be organised.
Councillors also noted plans by Dorset Council to install a new Toucan Crossing at the ‘south eastern end of Le Neubourg Way’.