Seething Wells goes to Place Committee 21.9.23
Seething Wells All Party Working Group
Meetings began 11.3.22 and there were five during 2022 and three this year with recommendations produced for the Place Committee's consideration. Throughout, there was a useful focus on actions that had often been on the agenda, but never progressed, such as the application for designation as an Asset of Community Value.
The application was unsuccessful based on the lack of public access onto the site. The Neighbourhood Manager stated that the decision does not preclude a further application in the future should circumstances change.
Meetings have also been convened with the site owners, Cascina, who welcomed the opportunity to enter into dialogue with the co-chairs. Concerns were expressed about alleged disparaging comments, threats and abuse Cascina suggest they have received from the local community on social media. I wonder why?
Cascina did indicate that they were interested in a conversation about a development scheme with an element of enabling development, which may allow part of the site to be given over to biodiversity, wildlife and public access. I imagine this would probably be slightly less site enhancing than the Thames Water scheme 2003, given the management regime to date.
Some actions have been outside the remit of this group and there remains a lack of confidence that the site's natural and heritage assets have any protection. There are also concerns from the public about the quality of the work being undertaken as required by the S215 enforcement action requiring the restoration of the wall/railings and the removal of rubbish and waste from the land.
In October 2022 Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court ordered Cascina Limited, the owner of Seething Wells Filter Beds, to carry out overdue maintenance work to the site and contribute £12,000 to Kingston Council’s legal fees.Kingston Council position on seething-wells
But subsequent monitoring of the work has not being undertaken by planning enforcement and there has been a reluctance to discuss the less than satisfactory work, especially since the completion deadlines have passed. The Environment Agency have also proved illusive regarding the continuance of 'certain' issues.
There has been a new planning application(s) that are in denial regarding roosting bats at the Pumping Station despite reports and evidence submitted to the Public Inquiry to the contrary see seething-wells-pump-house.html The so - called Biodiversity Net Gain designed to introduce non - native invasive grasses to the site.
Co - Chair recommendations
Co - chairs of SWAG (Seething Wells Action Group) presented an overview and commended the recommendations (below) to Councillors and three officers in attendance.
The Committee is asked to RESOLVE that the following recommendations be approved and any subsequent minor amendments be delegated to the Executive Director Place in consultation with the relevant Portfolio Holder and Ward Members.
a) The Council to explore and calculate the cost of the provision of a nature reserve
for public access, heritage and nature conservation including the possibility of the designation of the site as a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) with the owners.
b) The Council, using independent advice to value the land to understand the options including buying or leasing the site and to negotiate with owners to secure Council or a Trust (subject to the community setting up a trust) control of the management and maintenance of the site.
c) The Council to lead on exploring the options for heritage protection including potentially applying to Historic England for the entire site and in particular the Pump House and other Locally Listed historic assets on the site to be Statutorily Listed.
d) The Council to pursue opportunities through a variety of environmental schemes and third party organisations for restoration and improvement of habitats as part of their biodiversity commitment requirement and encouraging preservation of the site.
e) The Council to ensure that Seething Wells is a key factor in the development ofthe Riverside South Conservation Area Enhancement Appraisal and Management Plan and the Thames Landscape Strategy.
f) The Place Committee reports back to the Full Council with a review of the process that has taken place and develops the Working Group as a possible model for working with communities through creative and constructive dialogue with community groups.
g)After the dissolution of the Councillor Working Group following these recommendations to the Place Committee, as per the resolution of the Council Meeting of 27 January 2022, the Council will seek proactive dialogue with the landowners to enhance the management and maintenance of the site, with the support of community groups and residents.
h) It is the intention that the Working Group will continue its work under the auspices of the community, with the Council providing updates three times a year to Surbiton Neighbourhood Committee and annually to the Place Committee on the actions taken on the recommendation it has supported.
i) The community, with the support of the Council, submits responses at appropriate
stages in the process of the River Thames Scheme (RTS) development consent
order (DCO). In the Council's own response to the DCO it will take account of the
community views of this opportunity
Cllr. T Reeve spoke for Cllr L. Green who was not able attend. He stated that this was the first time the council and community have worked together on a 'tricky problem where the outcome was not entirely in the councils hands'. (Not entirely true, but the Local Agenda 21 and replacement strategies still burn in my memory as a massive time-wasters, with none of the communities recommendations ever enacted).
Several Cllrs. spoke in support of the recommendations. Cllr. Hayes endorsed the benefit of the model, with a word of caution, that 'we haven't got very far and there is still a great deal to be done with diligence from the community required'.
The working group will now continue as a community group to which the council is invited rather than the other way round.
and the owners will continue to find commercial uses. Check out surbiton riverside which gives the appearance on an AI knock - up produced solely for the purpose of generating fake opinion.