A planning application has been formally submitted to Elmbridge Council to develop a Water and Splash Activities Centre on the natural riverside at Hurst Meadows. The applicants are Molesey Jaguar Sea Scouts, who also anticipate hiring it out as a hub for many clients.
The Friends of Hurst Park OPPOSE this and any development at all on Hurst Meadows as we see it as the beginning of the end for one of the few remaining natural wildlife areas on the London Thames. The Friends fully support the scout movement - we have members with long experience of volunteering in local scout groups, members with children in the movement and members who are scouts themselves. This particular proposal, however, is in the wrong place and raises many issues of grave concern.
You can see the application in full here . Planning notices went up in the park on Friday 23 September 2016 stating that "The proposed development does not accord with the provision of the Development Plan in force in the area in which the land to which the application relates is situated".
This is the proposed location of the activity centre in designated Public Open Space held in trust for the local community by Elmbridge Borough Council.
SOME OF THE ISSUES IDENTIFIED ARE:
- The proposal lies within the undeveloped functional flood plain of Hurst Park and Meadows.
- The proposal will endanger scores of children in small craft, out in a busy navigation channel along the Surrey bank to access Molesey Lock.
- The proposal sets an industrial-style building (over 30m wide and some 8m high, with fenced boat storage enclosure at the rear) in a protected historic landscape
- The development will be built on land covenanted for public open space and gifted in 1946 to all local people for their enjoyment.
- Meadowland and trees will be lost, and a mature riverside habitat stripped to make a 30m boat launch area - something like 50 boats will be kept within the facility.
The river's edge here will be stripped of trees and vegetation
- The proposal will require all boats from the boatshed to be hauled along the Thames Path to the launch site, impeding and endangering other users; boatshed doors open directly to the towpath. Mooring pillars are proposed out in the river navigation.
- The Thames, the river bank and Duck's Eyot are all a Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI). Noisy splash activities with scores of small boats will disrupt nesting and resident waterbirds - grebe, moorhen, coot, diving duck, mallard, mandarin duck and geese raise young on this stretch.
- The proposal site is on the edge of another SNCI covering Hurst Meadows, which is also a Local Nature Reserve, where there are rare and unusual species. These Thames flood meadows are widely recognised as very rare and an unusually rich and diverse habitat. The open land is natural flood plain, the first line in defence to protect our houses when the river floods, as happened most recently in 2013/14 when the flood plain worked extremely effectively.
- There are unknown implications for traffic and parking with no projections in the application about how much the centre will be used, nor by how many. With ambitious plans to hire it out widely we can expect major increases in traffic, including boat trailers, minibuses and cars. All will use Sadlers Ride carpark and disruption is likely to be frequent.
The restricted width of the channel at the development site and Duck's Eyot nature reserve. This narrow width of river carries all upstream and downstream navigation traffic
Local opinion and planning guidance informs us that building on public open space here is not accepted in principle. There are feasible alternative sites which have been rejected.
The Friends group, working with six other local associations on both sides of the river, will be submitting evidence-based objections to this proposal (Rivermead Residents, Hurst Park Residents, Hampton and Molesey Riverside Trust, Hampton Court Crescent, Hampton Society, Garrick's Temple to Shakespeare Trust).
All Friends of Hurst Park should make their objections known to Elmbridge Council, perhaps based on the issues identified here or on concerns of their own, and on the profound and irreversible impacts from this development.
The intangible benefits for every person - frequently overlooked - from a place that is universally accessible, educational, spiritual and inspiring must be taken into account. The riverside here provides a unique opportunity for families, athletes, ramblers, the elderly, the disabled, ordinary people, to experience the natural world and enjoy its astonishing - vanishing - variety.
The development site is located here by the Thames Path. This Lime tree is to be felled.
You can see more about the many designated nature conservation sites nearby - some of them of global and national importance, all are linked by the River Thames through Hurst Park. Please tap here.
There is more about revised planning policies relating to flood risk and building in flood plains here.
or Go to Elmbridge Planning and Search for Application Number: 2016/2760
Tap here to respond to the application quoting no. 2016/2760
See the building's front and rear elevations here. The flanks of this development are likely to be highly visible on approach to the building along the Thames Path, but there is no photomontage nor any context with the application to visualize the setting of the development.
You can contact the Friends here: email@example.com