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.