Joint MAC/Friends objection to Jaggard Way development

The Management Advisory Committee and the Friends of Wandsworth Common have submitted a joint objection to the proposed Jaggard Way development described in an earlier news story. You can read the letter here. The associated planning committee meeting will be on February 27th at 7.30pm and objections can be submitted up to that time. However, to ensure they are taken account of you are advised to get your views in by mid-February.

Christmas Festivities

Thanks to all our helpers who made the Friends’ two Christmas events on Dec 8th such a great occasion. 

 A lot goes on behind the scenes to make these events a success. The singers leading the carols at Skylark had taken the trouble to rehearse and the main organisers, ‘Conductor’ Nikki Marsh and carols lead, Penny Clark, also put in additional time to select and schedule the carols, as well as to agree which version to use. Lisa Villaseca worked her IT magic making the songbooks so attractive. 

Thanks also to Skylark for finding space for everyone when the weather turned inclement and for donating proceeds from the mulled wine and mince pies to the Friends. Very Christmas spirited.

Meanwhile, our stunningly effective Christmas tree decorating team – Sarah, Lisa and Rachel – produced some really beautiful, natural decorations, mostly crafted from leaves, twigs and seeds found on the Common. Our Christmas tree was a real stunner. You can see it at St. Mary Magdalene Church on Trinity Road until Twelfth Night, as part of the Wandsworth Christmas Tree Festival. It’s worth a visit, with our tree voted (unofficially) joint ‘first’ in the whole Festival. Not bad for first timers!

Neal's Lodge - letter to the Council

A previous news item explained the complex legal case about the use of this prominent building in the centre of Wandsworth Common, which has now been empty for over 12 years. With the Council’s appeal having been rejected over six months ago, Wandsworth Common MAC, supported by the Friends of Wandsworth Common, and in conjunction with the Wandsworth Society, has written to Paul Martin, Chief Executive of Wandsworth Borough Council, offering to play a role in assisting the Council in devising and implementing a plan for the building ‘within the spirit of the judgement and in compliance with the Long Act’.

George Meakin, Chair of the MAC, says that ‘We firmly believe that a good proposal presented by these parties in conjunction with the Council, would enjoy strong support’.

‘Now would be a good time to draw a line under the past legal conflicts and make a positive and visible effort to achieve a satisfactory outcome on the use of Neal's Lodge in the best interests of the whole of the Wandsworth Common community and its stakeholders.’ You can read the full letter here

We would welcome feedback on what type of inclusive community use people feel the buildings should be used for, comprising the first floor above the Skylark Café and the adjacent cottage.

Jaggard Way planning deadline – Dec 27th

The strip of land between Wandsworth Common station and Ravenslea Road, at the SE corner of the Common, is owned by Cheshire West and Chester Council. It has been the subject of planning applications before, the last one being rejected in January 2018. A similar application has now been submitted (2018/5413), with comments sought by Dec 27th. Last time, the Wandsworth Common MAC submitted an objection which we reproduce here. We will submit a new objection once we’ve digested the sheaf of documents, as we feel the plans are essentially unchanged. They constitute overdevelopment, including four 4-storey blocks, in what would become an even more congested area than now, within and adjacent to a conservation area. Moreover, the buildings would overlook and be seen from a part of Wandsworth Common - St. James’ Triangle - noted for its natural, tranquil character, contributing to, according to Historic England "the village-like environment of the area". The view from the Common would be even less rural than it is now.

If you wish to submit your own objections we suggest you look at last time’s reasons for refusal, which we include here.

London Power Tunnels 2

Some of you have asked what these signs mean. They appeared on the Common in July and herald a tunnel to be bored under the Common for electricity cables by National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET). The MAC chair was told at the time that there would be no visible or invisible disruption and we’ve been following up the situation since.  

The project is still two years away and is described in more detail here. The whole tunnel is 32km in length, running from Wimbledon to Crayford. It is constructed using a tunnel boring machine installed at a depth of approximately 30m. There will be no above ground excavations except at the shaft sites, with access only being required to install monitoring equipment while the tunnelling is undertaken. Wandsworth Common is located between two shaft sites, one at the NGET substation at Wimbledon and the other at Kings Avenue, Clapham. Between these two sites there are no above ground works. The tunnelling will start at Kings Avenue, Clapham in November 2020 and will finish in December 2021.

We’ll update you when we hear more

Road junction plans would encroach on the Common

The Council is proposing road widening and other work at the junction of Bellevue and Trinity Roads and Burntwood Lane. The aim is to increase capacity and thereby reduce congestion and rat-running, and improve air quality and the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. However, the road widening would require approx 400 sqm of land to be taken from the Common. There is a long standing principle that Common land surrendered in this way must be replaced by land of equivalent value. The land proposed in compensation is a long narrow strip amounting to 950 sqm on the west side of Trinity Road, north of the County Arms, obtained by reducing Trinity Road from three lanes to two. This would need TfL approval. Moreover, although some initial work has already begun – moving bus stops and parking bays - the major work will be the subject of ‘extensive consultation’ in early 2019 and, as with all encroachments on Common land, will also need approval by the Secretary of State.

You can read the document that was approved here, including relevant maps, and the Council decision here. We urge everyone to take a look and send us your thoughts. FoWC and the MAC were invited to a site visit in the summer, and the Friends and the MAC are working together on this, alongside the Wandsworth Society.

Litter picking begins

The Friends have started regular litter picking. We know some people do this already, but we’ve tried to encourage as many as possible to come under the Friends umbrella, to benefit from advice on which areas are best to do when (to avoid disturbing wildlife for example) and pre-arranged rubbish collection, so it isn’t prey to foxes and crows. 20 of us met on a sunny Saturday in November and picked 20 bags of rubbish. Half of it was recyclable - cans and bottles mainly - which our volunteers took home with them. The rest was collected by prior arrangement later that day. Thanks especially to Patrick whose new shop, the Source Bulk Foods at 99 St John’s Rd Battersea, bought most of our equipment.

Of course we’d prefer not to have to litter pick, but human nature being what it is, and with only one paid litter picker servicing the whole of the Common, we expect to do this regularly. Our new hi-vis jackets attracted lots of attention and several ‘thankyous’ which helped make it a fun social occasion, with some light exercise, fresh air, and a bit of a chat thrown in for good measure. There were some old faces and some new ones too. Get in touch and join us for our next foray into the world of litter.

Council deputation

On November 7th, Wandsworth Common Friends and MAC joined forces to make a deputation to the Council with our views on the re-tendering of the Leisure and Culture management contract, currently operated by Enable LC. The contract expires in September 2019 and although it’s been extended by 6 months, a decision on the re-tendering is scheduled by next summer. Our counterparts from Tooting Common and Battersea Park also made deputations, demonstrating strength in numbers. You can read our deputation, which was also supported by the Wandsworth Society, here. We now aim to have detailed discussions with Council officers about the all-important specification of the contract.

Seasonal Tree walks begin

November saw the start of a programme of seasonal walks led by Enable’s tree officers based on Wandsworth Common. Between them they have over 50 years experience and we’re very pleased by their willingness to share their accumulated knowledge. The walks are proving very popular and quickly reach capacity. Jessica Stocks led over 20 of us to some carefully chosen examples of the problems tree officers have to deal with. We learned why, despite every effort, some trees have to be felled, for disease or safety reasons; the criteria for tree planting; the benefits of leaving dead wood to provide habitat for other creatures; the advantages of the London Plane in pollution absorption; the many benefits of street trees. Jess also showed a fascinating internal scan of an ash tree revealing the extent of fungal penetration (not ash dieback, however, which hasn’t reached Wandsworth Common - yet!). Watch out for our next walk soon.

Monthly 'walks & talks' programme

Our Walks and Talks programme has got off to a flying start - literally - with a butterfly walk in August, a bat walk in September, and a photography walk in October. All were very successful, thanks first and foremost to our walk leaders - all experts in their field - who provided their time for free. All the events were a first for us and we’re learning as we go.

We advertise the events to Friends first, then if we still have space, we extend the invite to our wider contact list. However, most of our events so far have been fully subscribed by Friends so if you want to make sure of a place it’s best to join.

We aim to organise an event every month, usually with a nature or activity theme. In November we have another tree walk - these have proved very popular - and a pub quiz. In December we have carol singing and in the New Year a walk to help people walk off the excesses after Christmas. More will be added. Keep an eye on our calendar below for details. And if you have any ideas for a walk theme and/or know someone who might lead one, we’d be only too pleased to hear.