Tesco's Development at Tolworth

So the Kingston Society are supporting the  planning application for King George's Gate (the Tesco's site at Tolworth) which has now been submitted (15/10074) even though it falls very short of the requirements of the borough's Local Development Framework (LDF), not least due to the low number of affordable units (90 out of 705).Tesco planning app

But the whole ecological assessment is based on a false premise i.e that the nearest statutory designated sites for nature conservation importance are 800 metres away, when in fact they are less than 200 metres. This is not the fault of the consultants acting for Tesco, who have in good faith, obtained information on locally protected sites from the London Biological Records Centre (Greenspace Information for Greater London GiGL).

However when Tolworth Court Farm Fields and The Tolworth Moated Manor sites were notified as LNR's (the latter approved in 2008 Moated Manor Council Decision the council didn't bother to tell anyone). Suffice to say that there was probably confusion between the parties as to whose responsibility this was, as clearly there was  dialogue with Natural England pre-planning, but the two reserves did not appear on the list of 143 Nature Reserves in London London Nature Reserves list which is maintained by Natural England.

So what does this mean? Well clearly the impacts of development on the LNR's have not been assessed evaluated or adequately mitigated. This includes the impacts of the increased numbers of pets, including cats and the increased numbers of dog walkers, on the fragile components of the Statutory Protected Sites .

Pond Tolworth Moated Manor
It also means that the current mitigation is insufficient and inappropriate. Not least, there are few safeguards for the largely unrecognised reptile interest, which radiates from and along the railway corridor. This corridor is one of the most important in the borough for all three of the species of reptile found in Kingston. Grass snake and slow worms are frequently recorded at Knollmead Permaculture site and the adjacent University Sports Ground. The latter have been frequently found  at Tolworth Court Farm and  even recorded being preyed upon by a kestrel! Viviparous lizards are less frequently recorded, but how many reptile surveys are carried out in the borough? This species did  feature in a recent survey carried out for the expansion of Tolworth School.

Yellow meadow ant mounds at TMM, the largest in the borough
Many of us are members of the Kingston Society and would prefer to see better canvassing of its membership in cases of these large controversial developments, which will impact on all our lives. After all it's numerous appeals for 'fresh blood',  it seems the committee have not modified their undemocratic decision making process and seem to accept the Leader of the Council's mantra that we need to accommodate another 30,000 residents, although this may have more to do with the aspiration for an Independent Kingston Surreycomet: Council leader plots Kingstons independence_from_government_funding/.

There are  ways in which a development at this location could have been a solution to some of the problems facing this corner of the borough, including the horrendous levels of air pollution, already in contravention of European Law. Whilst modern developments across London are incorporating water sensitive designs for our radically climate  changed futures, much of the proposed mitigation is highly optional and already out of date.


  1. Yep, details of Kingston non-statutory sites of importance for nature conservation (SINCs) and of LNRs isn't terribly clear.

    The Unitary Development Plan (UDP), predecessor to the LDF, listed them by name and designation type (at appendix 6). Overall that list comprised 43 SINCs and 9 LNRs (total 52). Unfortunately the LDF Core Strategy only provides a total number of SINCs and LNRs.

    The Draft Core Strategy stated there are 51 SINC sites in the borough with 9 LNRs "and a further [LNR] at Hogsmill Meadows".
    The December 2011 Inspectors report (appendix b) on the Draft reduced this to 39 sites plus 9 LNRs when it switched to GiGL's figures. The adopted Core Strategy (2012) kept this 39/9 figure as does the LDF 2013 Annual Monitoring Report. So between the UDP and LDF, the number of designated sites reduced first by one, then by a further 3.

    Without a listing of SINCs by grade for the borough and LNRs, I can't easily tell if currently designated sites are the same ones, whether they've the same grade, or if two previously separate sites are now counted as one.

    For example, according to iGiGL, the Metropolitan grade Coombe Hill Golf Course and Borough Importance Grade I Barwell Estate Lake now aren't SINCs at all. Two more listed at Boro. Imp. Grade I in the UDP list, The Grapsome and Meadowlands, are now Grade II. The "Sixty Acre Wood" and "Jubilee Woods (including extension)" Metropolitan SINCs now seem to be counted as one.

    The UDP and Moated Manor Council Decision agree that "Tolworth Court Farm Fields and Medieval Moated Manor" are designated at Boro. Imp. Grade I and "Tolworth Court Farm Fields" is an LNR. GiGL agrees "Tolworth Court Farm Fields and Medieval Moated Manor" is a SINC at that status and specifies in its description that part of the site is an LNR.

    The Inspector's report (appendix a) seems ambiguous on Moated Manor's LNR status. It talked of Farm Fields as an LNR, and "progressing the designation of Tolworth Court Farm Manor site [... that was] identified locally being a potential location for protected species/habitats and as such the Council produced a management plan to effect its designation as a Local Nature Reserve". The RBK Annual Monitoring Report 2013 (at pg 44) says there are nine LNRs and 39 SINCs. I'd expect the number of LNRs to have risen to ten had the designation of Moated Manor been completed.

    Nature England's LNR list has 12 where Kingston was the Declaring Authority, versus the UDP list having named 9. Within the 12 not all have declaration dates, though the latest is Jubilee Wood at 1995. NE lists all 8 UDP ones (not the 9th Tolworth Court Farm Fields), plus separately lists Rose Walk, Elmbridge Open Space, Southwood Open Space, Ham Lands. Ham Lands only appears on NE's list.
    Among the UDP list is "The Hogsmill River Park (comprising Rose Walk, Elmbridge Avenue, Hogsmill Wood, Hogsmill Open Space & South Wood Drive Open Space)", whereas NE lists Rose Walk, Elmbridge Open Space and Southwood Open Space separately. Confusingly, NE's Elmbridge Open Space description repeats the contents of those brackets and adds Jubilee Woods for good measure. Their Hogsmill River Park entry's description merely refers to the Hogsmill River.

  2. Thanks for your comments Richard. I would add that some of the above are 'splits' to make it look like there are more SNCI's than there actually are. In fact the land areas have shrunk and one is Planning 'gain'. I refer to the Meadowland's which appeared after development of MOD land in Chessington and refers to a small parcel of land, which has not been managed for the orchids for which it was designated (as well as a portion of an unrelated area). Other than one Pyramidal found last year the only Orchid is the name of the road-Orchid Close.


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