Tolworth Area Plan, Culture, Heritage and the Apple Store.

The Tolworth Area Plan was on Wednesday's Agenda of the  council Growth Committee, although it didn't grow very far - being deferred at first base - despite the presence of several interested parties wishing to make representations.

Bristows haulage yard, former mill site 
Who is the TAP for and whose future is it meant to guide, given that it would be a material consideration in determining future planning applications?

If development is inevitable, can it be made more relevant to the local community, providing an environment, more meaningful to Tolworth, rather than serving outside interests. Recent  sequestering of  natural heritage and cultural assets for the use of offshore companies and hotels does not engender reassurance. Why for example, are we building multi-storey car parks when in other boroughs  they are being demolished in an effort to meet housing targets and tackle air pollution.

From the viewpoint of someone who responded to the consultation; regarding the integrity of the open spaces - with no evidence that these responses were incorporated- there is trepidation. None of us like change, especially when the prospect is an increase in urbanisation. However it wouldn't take very much to make the proposals less harmful.

Tolworth Court Moated Manor 
The route south from the Hogsmill open space through the sports fields has been proposed before as a safe walking route; increased traffic levels and vehicle speeds have meant that it is  >five years since we could safely walk down Worcester Park Road. This is about to become an impossibility with new developments, such as the Old Mill House and Bristows Haulage yard.

However none of the proposals have had an ecological impact assessment (EcIA) especially on those ecological receptors, which may be displaced by: light pollution from the proposed new lighting; breeding sites disturbed; or matrix habitats fragmented. It shows no recognition of the importance of the slivers of riverside land designated nature reserve; rather there is a general cow-towing the fashion for land multi-purposing,  ignoring international wildlife legislation and national policy.

EcIA might not be necessary if the more damaging anthropogenic elements -especially lighting- were omitted; demonstrating an intelligent understanding of what the designation  nature reserve conveys. The Moated Manor site (pictured above) was designated by cabinet as a Nature Reserve in 2008, it has never been formally recognised as such, and has not been included with the rest of Tolworth Court Farm. There are bees kept on this site, which would be one of the pollinators that would be impacted by proposals to entend the Greenway to the Surrey boundary. Insects cannot cross large gaps and require at least 'ribbons' of pollinating flowers and 'pavement plants' to guide them to nearby sites. If food production is going to increase in Tolworth with the Shedx project, then connectivity for pollinators- not just humans- is required.

informal grazers 
Worse, Tolworth Park - appears to be the new name for Tolworth Court Farm Fields TCFF - used to describe the 43 hectares  to the south-west of the A240 with it's provenance as farmland that can be traced back to Doomesday Book in the 11th century. The field layout was meticulously researched by B. Webb and the area is currently under Countryside Stewardship managed as neutral hay meadows by Red Kites, Lower Mole Countryside Trust and various informal equus species.

In the latest newsletter of the LMCT 'Mole Matters', P. Harwood remarks on the importance of the site and the threats posed by  the run-off from traffic on already congested roads, high rise buildings and encroaching development as well as the problems of climate change, which have contributed towards a massive increase in species loss. The importance of TCF for butterfly species, in particular, white letter and brown hairstreak,  has been covered in previous posts.  The consultants We Made That (WMT) commissioned by the council, TFL and the GLA to produce the TAP, will have seen many representations on this issue, as I was sent copies, including one from Butterfly Conservation.

apple store 
Also on the agenda were revision to cultural and heritage strategies but in particular the change in denomination of locally listed buildings currently known as 'Buildings of Townscape Merit' to the more intuitive name of 'Locally Listed Buildings'. The irony was despite an evening  discussing Tolworth, Culture, Planning, and  Heritage none of the debate  extended to  the future of the Tolworth  Apple Store. However I was allowed to speak for as long as I wanted, and received positive encouragement  from councillors.

Perhaps that was to do with the  ready-brek-type glow that surrounded me, in response to correspondence from the PA of a well known artist, who has purchased an apple store (aka fruit house) and sent his best wishes prior to the start of the meeting.

Those requiring more precise information can pick through the bones of the report on the topic:
'It is recommended that no action be taken by the Council in respect of the former applestore building other than to use the Councils good offices to facilitate dialogue between the Leaseholder and the Petitioner with a view to the Leaseholder repairing the building.

To resolve that the Head of Property be authorised to facilitate meetings and discussions between the Petitioners and the Tenant to explore how the repairs may be addressed and funded.'


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