Molesey Hurst ©John Inglis
Queen Anne's Lace ©John Inglis Tufted Vetch ©John Inglis Knapweed ©John Inglis Hedge Brown on Hurst Meadows ©Mick Rock

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"On the 8 August the Planning Compliance Team issued 9 Enforcement Notices for a number of moorings located north west of Cherry Orchard Gardens and adjacent to the tow path. The notices come into effect on the 9th September and require the cessation of the use of the land for the permanent mooring of boat/s and the removal of any structures, fencing or enclosures, which have been erected in association with the use of the land for the permanent mooring of boat/s, within one month from the date of which the notice takes effect. The recipients do have a right to submit an appeal, prior to the date the notice takes effect, which would place on hold any of the requirements of the notice until the appeal/s are decided.

"The Council has now served persons in the vicinity of Cherry Orchard Gardens with a Community Protection Notice (Warning Letter) to cease any further removal of vegetation and trees and also not to add any further fences or buildings to the riverbank. If persons fail to comply with the above requirements within the timescales given, then Elmbridge Borough Council will consider serving a Community Protection Notice (CPN) which could lead to a fixed penalty notice or risk prosecution.
See more on the Elmbridge Council website here.

"The Environment Agency has also served relevant byelaw warning notices regarding the removal of vegetation, shrubs and trees and potential offences under the Thames Navigation Licensing & General Byelaws 1993.

"Surrey County Council are aware of the fences across the public highway and will investigate. However, they prioritise all reports carefully and deal with immediate and significant safety issues first. At the present time, due to high numbers of reports, they are only able to deal with priority 1 and 2 issues. Priority 3, 4 and 5 issues will still be recorded and if resources allow, staff or volunteers will investigate. Please see their Maintenance and Enforcement Priority Statement which sets out their priorities 1-5."

We find that the proliferation of illegal encampments relates to safety issues, especially for lone women walkers, and the damage to the Thames Path Public Right of Way and National Trail has been on a scale that could be considered to be criminal in a site of nature conservation importance and in the nesting season. The matter would go up Surrey County Council's priority list with more formal complaints. Report a problem on this right of way on the Surrey County Council website.

The Environment Agency states that the River Thames at Hurst Park is not bathing water quality, and that swimming in it comes with risks. For this reason the EA do not test the water for infectious organisams. The only testing we know of is for levels of nitrates and phosphates undertaken by Fresh Water Watch. Human waste matter is likely to be getting into our waters from the unauthorised live-aboard and stay-aboard vessels in the Molesey Reach - and a safety issue. Human waste and dead fish and rats have been reported floating passing us here at Hurst Park. Recent reports of gastro-enteritis suffered by dogs who have been in the river here suggests there may be an issue. If you have contact with river water and are ill in the days following, please let us know and we will gather the data to help get the area back to the bathing water status it used to be.

Recent research shows worrying findings - water in the Thames has been found to contain high levels of antibiotics from the large number of wastewater treatment works that discharge into the river, both upstream and in London. This result is an increasing number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which means if you get an infection after swimming in the river it might be extremely difficult to treat.
Read more here.

Read more about swimming in the Thames

Elmbridge Council has bye-laws which prohibit barbeques, fireworks and fires anywhere in Hurst Park or the Meadows. They also do not permit camping anywhere within the park. The Friends managed to get the council to erect clear notices about this at all entrances to the park, so anyone who sees it going on can refer culprits to those notices. Portable barbecues leave long-lasting damage on the grass and food waste attracts vermin. The smoke from some barbeques is very offensive to many park users and spoils their enjoyment of the open riverside enviromnment. In very dry weather there is also risk of grass fires, which have happened here a number of times in recent years..

The Thames at Hurst Park is a popular area for course fishing. Many fishermen can be seen along its banks during the fishing season and often there are competitions here run by local angling clubs. Following frequent injuries to river birds, the Environment Agency, working with the local authorities, established a no-fishing zone some years ago along the stretch of riverbank commonly used for feeding the birds. Since then there has been a huge - and very welcome - reduction in injuries to waterfowl. The no-fishing zone stretches from the Hampton ferry landing stage for 400m downstream towards Taggs Island and is indicated by EA no-fishing signs.
Again, there are notices to refer to if fishermen haven't seen them, or ignore them. The zone was established to protect our many resident and nesting birds and chicks - the measure has certainly reduced suffering and boosted the waterfowl population.
See more on the no fishing area

A planning application was submitted for a permanent toilet facility at Sadlers Ride carpark which will be fully accessible for disabled people. It is now in place and should open for business soon.

Proposals show complete demolition of the two Victorian villas currently on the site, to be replaced by a much bigger, four-story, modern building. Views through to Hurst Road from the towpath and Hurst Meadows would change dramatically as the site, within the Kent Town Conservation Area, would lose its two locally-llisted buildings of architectural merit. For those wishing to know more or to comment, the application number on the planning pages of Elmbridge Borough Council's website is 2018/3608.

Although not in Hurst Park, there is keen interest in the area around Hampton Court Station and the Bridge. An application for redevelopment of the station car park and former riverside pub site is now on Elmbridge Council's planning pages, number 2018/3810.

The court is now in use with a notice about rules and scoring and two benches for spectators. The terrain - as it is called - is next to the Saddlers Ride car park and open for anyone with their own boules to have a game, as well as more formal competitions during the coming spring and summer.

Events in the park

See our earlier news