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Showing posts from 2013

Peaceful pochard

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Since the site visit (11.12.13) there has been no security presence at Seething Wells. With no-one driving around the Filter Beds every half hour, the site returns to 'normal'. The lack of disturbance has led to a welcome return of the swans and ducks normally expected  during the winter. This includes 4 swan, 34 tufted duck, ten gadwall and a female pochard, as well as good numbers of coot and moorhen. This morning there were six little grebe distributed between the beds and three lapwing on the dividing wall between FB's 5 and 6.
Now that the tree screen has lost its leaves the door on the north east elevation appears to be open and fresh graffiti has appeared on the blue paintwork.

Public Inquiry: Appellants Closing Statement

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See the link here for the appellants closing statement:

http://www.friendsofseethingwells.org/


Planning Inspector's site visit Seething Wells

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The site visit was scheduled for 11am on a cold foggy morning. there were approximately ten attendees including three from the Friends of Seething Wells as well as the planning consultant and  landscape architect for the developers Hydro/ Cascina. At 10.55a.m the security guard drove his car down the slope and onto the platform between FB's 1 & 2. He got out of his car making sure that all the lapwings flew away. He got back in his car and returned to the coal wharf (which was our meeting point).
We walked back along the filter beds and were shown some yellow marks on the pillars along the Portsmouth Road which are supposed to depict the heights of the apartments or the tops of the photovoltaic panels. We heard the eerie call of a lapwing through the fog, which could be seen flying from the wall at FB 5. Returning to  the coal wharf to view the iron plates that were once the base for the transport of freight around the site, one of the developer's staff almost fell down a …

Seething Wells PI: summing up with additional comments on ecology

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Yesterday was the final day of the Inquiry at Surrey County Hall. There is a good write up here http://www.surreycomet.co.uk/news

The summing up by the QC said that this is a case of the 'Emperor's New Clothes, the naked truth (about the proposal) is more mundane. This is a development of 64 homes, marina, car parking etc with ANCILLARY provision of open space, with what is LEFT after that provision'.
He stated that the appellants failed to analyse the reasons for the site designations and all previous Inspectors rulings (UDP, Inquiry etc) had been ignored.
Whilst public access is an aspiration for this site the QC asked 'why should the site be sacrificed on an altar to provide this benefit' it is desirable not required and not sufficient to compromise the MOL policy designation. 
He clarified the council's position on ecology (not contested by the council in this Inquiry) who said that it was agreed that there would be an impact on ecology but the 'net im…

Friends of Seething Wells Rule 6 Party at the Public Inquiry

FYI:
In January this year, councillors unanimously rejected Hydro's scheme for the Filter Beds.

This coming Monday, the developer’s Appeal against this decision starts and will run all week. Those of you who wrote in to the Council, objecting to the scheme, will have received letters from the Council explaining what's going on.

Something this letter didn't point out is that The Friends of Seething Wells are a full party on this Appeal. We're very proud to be representing the strong community opposition and we've been putting in many hours preparing our evidence and our witnesses. Although we're confident and optimistic, it would also really demonstrate the strength of local support to the Appeal Inspector if as many local people as possible attended the Hearing.

The appeal is being heard at Surrey County Hall, Penryn Road, Kingston, KT1 2EA (it's opposite Kingston Uni on Penryn Road). It starts at 10.00am on Monday with the Inspectors’ opening annou…

Seething Wells Public Inquiry

The date of the Seething Wells Public Inquiry has been set as the 25th of November and will last for 5 days. Here is the link to the information on the council's website


Proof of Evidence Ecology A. Fure

Appeal documents










Seething Security part deux

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In the continuing saga regarding the security measures at Seething Wells, I  have had a number of approaches from members of the public, wondering why the site has recently become so precious that it warrants 24 hour security.
A web search reveals that it could be due to the remnant stocks of talcum powder, which used to be mined at the site. There are a number of references to the white stone of Seething that lay ‘undere the surface of the soil’ by the banks of the River Thamessee Talcum Powder mine at Seething Wells

However others have sent in photos of  commodities upon the land, which may be in serious need of scrumping prevention, such as the large numbers of apples




Is this  over zealous security inspector suspicious that his car may not be all that it seems, or could he be listening to Leifi through the medium of Fiat.

A prize will be awarded by the year end to the most interesting photo submitted, or any info leading to  'what it is that has been lost'.

September Security

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At last the developers have bestowed some of vast their resources on Seething Wells.

Have they cut the chalk grassland and removed the encroaching ash, sycamore and other invasives?

Have they painted the railings?

Or was it the urgent works to the roof of the Building of Townscape Merit?

No instead they have installed a Security Firm.



Meanwhile they have produced their Statement of Case. The Hydro case is broader than the case submitted by RBK and includes ecology, heritage, leisure and other issues.

A much narrower approach has been taken by the council conceding all the wider issues in the Statement of Common Ground. The council agree there would be no adverse impact on ecology and that the marina would not be detrimental to other river users.

In their Statement, Hydro assert that the site is deteriorating and that vegetation is growing in the filter beds..... so they employ security to guard it.

For info:
Planning Inspectorate link:http://www.pcs.planningportal.gov.uk/

Or Kin…

Floating Foam: Legal row over floating homes patent throws more doubt on Surbiton filter beds scheme!

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The company behind the Surbiton filter beds housing scheme has been hit with a legal claim forbidding it from developing the land, in a dispute over a “floating homes” patent, which has become a floating farce.

A claim against Hydro Properties and managing director Philip Wallis has been issued by NGM Sustainable Developments, seeking an injunction preventing Hydro or its affiliates from building floating home developments.

NGM also wants several agreements with Hydro rescinded, including an irrevocable licence of the patent for floating and can-float homes. read more http://www.surreycomet.co.uk/news/10615884.Legal_row_over_floating_homes_patent_

see also: http://ngmdevelopments.wordpress.com/

Appeal Validated by Inspector

The Appeal has now been validated by the Planning Inspectorate with a start date of 9 July and it appears as a Public Inquiry. Statements and comments may have a deadline but no date as yet for the hearing.

see http://www.pcs.planningportal.gov.uk/pcsportal/ViewCase.asp?caseid=2197943&coid=67733

Restoration Days

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I am informed that agents acting for Hydro are among the readers of this blog. How jolly cordial. So what I was wondering is: how long was it  going to be, before any responsibility was taken for managing the site, as the critical mass of our citizens are duty bound to make sure our own land is in a good state of repair. Not just a state.
Presently, an impression is imparted, that the developers couldn't care less, which will be of great interest to the planning inspector at the forthcoming Inquiry, especially if he or she has to hire a machete to undertake a site visit. 

Previous blogs have reported on our council's wisdom as to how bad it needs to be before enforcement action is taken. The dangerously severed railings above aren't sufficiently bad, so how about.....

Our be-buddleja'd 'Building of Townscape Merit'?




Nope. Ok, well how about the suckering sycamore silently shoving-over the  boundary wall .........hopefully not onto someones shoes or spaniel.Oh,…

Damsel Days

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With the temperature soaring to 32 degrees there has been a ' super' emergence of damsel flies from the Filter Beds. Mostly red eyed and common blue damselflies, there are also broad bodied chasers and southern hawker dragonflies over at FB 7. The sheer numbers are incredible and inevitably some are caught by car windshields, as they drift across the Portsmouth Road into gardens, along The Mall and Westfield Road. Last year, several were given as gifts to local cat owners and I ended up with many body parts to identify. 
Focus your binoculars over the water and see their hovering flight low over the water's surface, as they make sorties to capture prey or see off rival males. Also look at the sycamore trees growing close to the railings where you might observe pairs mating in the 'wheel' formation

Visit to Woodberry Wetlands

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Another opportunity to view a Thames Water site, which will be managed for wildlife, occurred this weekend in Hackney. This was at the open day at 'Woodberry Wetlands' or East reservoir and our guide was David from the London Wildlife Trust. His opening statement was that 'we want to change peoples attitudes',  we need to engage local people quickly to make sure that they realise, that this is a nature reserve and they cannot bring their gazebos, barbeques and sound systems here'. Nor is it possible to bring dogs. This is an opportunity for local people to have a rare glimpse of a Thames Water operational site in the east end of London. Thames Water are about to hand to the London Wildlife Trust, the annual contract for managing the site and for the first time the reedbeds and grasslands will be cut on a regime that will have maximum wildlife benefit, while complying with the requirements for Reservoir Engineer inspections etc.
Health and Safety issues will mean t…

Appeal has been lodged

The Planning Appeal has been lodged against the decision by Kingston Council to refuse permission to develop the Filter Beds.
http://maps.kingston.gov.uk/isis_main/planning/planning_summary.aspx?strWeekList=Jun-2013&strWeekListType=REC&strSys=APP&strWard=ALL&strWardTxt=All%20Wards&strExclude=REST

Surbiton Filter Beds – Grounds of Appeal
1. Introduction 1.1 This appeal is made against the decision of the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames (LBKT) to refuse planning application ref: 11/16502/FUL, which was submitted on behalf of  Hydro Properties Limited for:“Redevelopment of the filter beds to provide a publicly accessible nature reserve, riverside walk, open space, a 239 square metre heritage and education centre, a flood storage cell, and river taxi drop-off point, all to be enabled through the provision of a 92 berth leisure  marina and lock gate, 7 residential launch vessel moorings, 64 residential homes set on a  floating pontoon, and 300 square metres of r…

Walthamstow Wetlands

Walthamstow Wetlands is another  project to open up the largest purpose-built water body in London to the public. The project has been developed by the Walthamstow Wetlands Partnership, led by the reservoir owners Thames Water and Waltham Forest Council. 
The aim is to redefine Walthamstow Reservoirs as a distinctive urban wetland nature reserve in the heart of north-east London and create a special heritage asset which becomes a valued part of the cultural, social, economic and environmental life of our community. 
An open day is being held for all on
Saturday, 13th July, 2013 11am—3pm
The Mill, 7 - 11 Coppermill Lane
Walthamstow, London E17 7HA
http://www.wildlondon.org.uk/sites/walthamstow-wetlands

Woodberry Wetlands, Hackney

At the last public meeting, slides were shown of wildlife  models of former Thames Water sites, such as Leg O' Mutton reservoir and Woodberry Wetlands in Hackney. A previous post gave details of a meeting convened with the Friends of  the Leg O' Mutton reservoir. There is now an open day at the Hackney site if anyone is interested in attending. The publicity is below.

You may be interested to know - particularly if you are a Hackney/Haringey resident - of our new Woodberry Wetlands project. Please find below our invitation to local residents to come to our open days at Stoke Newington East Reservoir. The first is this Saturday between 10am and 4pm (drop-in) and the second is Sunday 7 July also between 10am and 4pm (drop-in). The events will provide residents with a unique opportunity to come and see our truly exciting plans to grant access to the Reservoirs (East and West), improve habitats for wildlife and repurpose a Grade II listed building (the Gas House) into a volunteer…

Cost of Neglect

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The flower walk, which was due to take place at the end of the month around the perimeter fence at the Seething Wells Filter Beds, has been cancelled. 
This is due to the fact that the wild flowers, which had formed part of the chalk grassland and are named on the Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI) citation within our Local Development Framework, are now overgrown by brambles, bracken and trees.
It has taken the current owners, precisely two years to thoroughly neglect all of the features at the site, but why haven’t the council acted. When Thames Water placed an unauthorised red pipe (see previous posts) across the Chelsea Tunnel by FB 1 several years ago, there was uproar and talk of enforcement action with a posse of the Conservation Team going on a site visit. Twice, I have had the council on my case because my Jerusalem sage grows a flower petal too far over the pavement at this time of year. 
Yet at the recent public meeting a councillor stated that the deterioration w…

House and Sand Martins at Seething Wells

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Even 12 years ago, the natural world of Kingston and environs was  very different. Prospect Road, just off the Portsmouth Road was a haven for house martins, who built their nests at the eaves of the cottages. One of the people instrumental in the initial campaigns to save the Filter Beds (now sadly deceased) had martins nesting at her cottage. There used to be clouds of them, along with swifts and sand martins, feeding over the filter beds during the summer.
When building a new or repairing the previous years nest house martins are dependent on wet mud. This needs to be located near to the nest site, as the birds can't travel too far with loaded beaks. As the Lambeth Works were developed, (now Simpson Way etc) supplies of mud were reduced to less reliable seasonal sources from puddles and so became weather dependent. This spring has been largely without rain, topped by strong drying winds, with no guaranteed local supply. See the video below to observe martins building a nest. I…

FoSW Public Meeting: Vision for the Future

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Last night Ed Davey presided over a hall packed with >100 people as we came together to discuss a vision for the filter beds that we would like to see going forward. After presentations, the audience was split into 5 groups to discuss heritage, access, funding etc., each with a facilitator. This will be followed through by a survey monkey.
There was overwhelming opinion  that the developers had been allowed to get away with too much for too long regarding their wanton neglect of the site. Cllr. George kicked off with  comments regarding the state of the listed blue railings, stating that they were an eyesore. Cllr. Green said that the council officers did not feel the neglect was currently sufficient to undertake enforcement action at present even though they were aware that the roots of trees were undermining the wall.
During the 1990's the Building Conservation Team were exercised by a red pipe that was installed in front of the Chelsea tunnel portal. This has appeared in a …

Appeal announced

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Last weeks Surrey Comet reported  that Hydro Properties will be announcing its appeal within the next few days.The company has hired top planning and environmental barrister Martin Kingston to fight its case.

On his company website No 5 Chambers, it states Mr Kingston is "top of the tree," "a first port of call for the most complex and high profile cases" and his "advocacy skills prove devastating for the opposition".

FoSW has responded as follows:

'We've been really excited at the opportunity Hydro's failure opens up for working with a community that has come together behind a shared cause, keen to contribute to the development of a far more fitting future for this historically and ecologically vivid site'.

We'll be bringing everyone up to date with our plans at a public meeting on 17th May, St Andrew's and St Mark's School, Maple Road. As we've always said, we're keen to gather residents ideas and hopes to mak…

Gadwall and Little Grebe

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This April photograph shows just how delayed the vegetation is this year. Pussy willow was amongst the few seasonal flowering plants this weekend. The water levels are holding well and the filter beds are filling up with water. 







This means that the duck are returning, and a pair of gadwall and little grebe were present, along with resident coots and tufties. There are no sand martins or swallows in our area just yet, but these can be expected any day.

Site designation: features and constraints:

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There are a number of constraints present when deciding the future of the Filter Beds due to it's designation as a Site of Borough Importance Grade 1. Some of the natural features are included in the the following citation:







Site Reference:          KiBI08 Site Name:                   Seething Wells Filter Beds Summary:                    The remains of the old Surbiton Water Works, next to the Thames, frequented by                                          wintering wildfowl and other birds seeking refuge from the comparatively exposed                                          river. Plant species usually associated with the North Downs grow on the chalk                                          grassland on the concrete basin walls. Grid ref:                        TQ 173 675 Area (ha):                     5.36 Habitat(s):   Chalk grassland, Marsh/swamp, Pond/lake, Ruderal Site Description:   The remains of the redundant Surbiton Water Works consist of seven rain-fed filter beds in a steep-…

Leg o' Mutton Reservoir

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On a cold Sunday afternoon, a group from the Friends of Seething Wells met with members of the advisory committee for the Leg o' Mutton Reservoir, Lonsdale Road at Barnes. This site has site a similar history to the Portsmouth Road Filter Beds, in as much as it was originally owned by Thames Water and is situated alongside the river Thames. After the reservoir was made redundant in the 1960’s, housing was planned for the site, but was fiercely opposed by local residents at several public inquiries.

The council purchased the reservoir in the 1970’s and it was managed as a public space until the 1990’s, when it was designated as a Local Nature Reserve. A boundary line of imposing hybrid black poplar trees are thought to be about 170 years old and bat boxes have been erected at a height suitable for noctule bats, which are regularly recorded there along with Pipistrelles and Daubenton’s bats. Herons nest in a large plane tree as well as on ‘tern rafts’ and several species of duck ar…

Seething Festival and Procession, 2013

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Members from the Guild of Taxonomists dressed as bats botanists and bushes.
This included an annual visit from Biggles the flying willow bat. If you would like a visit to your school by Biggles please get in touch.



The gulls are back in town!

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Water levels are noticeably increasing after recent rainfall. There may be some seepage apparent from the wet shadows on the dip slopes, but generally the vegetation which established last year, is now submerged.
Gradually the plants will die and nutrients will affect the water quality with a knock-on effect on the species of invertebrate, which  will live within the water column. Nevertheless, food resources, drinking and bathing water and a safe night roost will all be available once the water levels rise.
The main thing is that all the ducks, gulls and other water birds associated with the filter beds are returning. Nationally, black-headed gull numbers have declined substantially and they are more likely to be seen at inland places such as the Filter Beds than at the coast. This is due to habitat changes and loss of food resources. In their Environmental Statement the developers stated that the gulls and other birds noted on the site's SNCI citation (Site of Nature Conservati…

Reasons for refusal

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In the words of the Planning Committee:

The development proposed, in particular the residential dwellings on the pontoon and the restaurant, result in built development that would not preserve the openness of the Metropolitan Open Land and would have a detrimental impact on its visual amenity. The development is therefore inappropriate development on Metropolitan Open Land and the justification put forward as enabling development is not sufficient to represent “very special circumstances”. As such the proposal fails to comply with Policies CS3 (The Natural and Green Environment), and DM5 (Green Belt, Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) and Open Space Needs) of the LDF Core strategy (April 2012) and Policy 7.17 (Metropolitan Open Land) of the London Plan 2011.
In the words of Peter Griffin, 'so that's that Mrs that's that'.

And the result is........................

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Planning Committee sits tonight

RBK officers are recommending approval of the proposed development of the Filter Beds see kingston council

The meeting will start at 19.30. Be early to get a seat as Robin says:

'Today is not the day to be apathetic, today is not the day to leave it to others. Today is the day to do the right thing and come along to Kingston Councils development committee meeting and show your support for those brilliant people fighting to save our ecology, our heritage and a future for all on our riverside. 7.30 at The Guildhall, Kingston'

Dear Kingston Planning Department

After the Surbiton Neighbourhood Committee Meeting, I rang your office to ask why none of the comments from my 15 page letter had been included in the report to councillors. I was told that they were included in the late material, which I did not see and could not check ( I would like a copy please).

I ask the same question of the report to the Development Control Committee produced for the meeting next Tuesday. I can see ONLY 9 ecology points  entered in the report. None of these include the points made in my last submission regarding:

Comments pertaining to baseline data, who decided what and when the baseline should be:
the current state of the filter beds and Daubenton's bat feeding ecology and that these animals cannot feed in a cluttered environment;
the affect of the deterioration on the habitat and this years low numbers of roosting bats (from 30 animals to 3);
the dispute over whether the maternity colony even formed this year and the noticeable change in bat behavio…