We’ve been contacted a lot recently about the condition of Tooting Common, and more specifically about the area around the lake and the problem with rats.
We raised with this council officers as we believe one way this could be tackled is more toilet provision on the Common so that the bushes are not used as toilets. This is currently the case and is likely to be one of the reasons there are increased numbers of rats on the Common.
We’ve had a positive update from the Council in this regard, and they are reviewing toilets for short and medium to long term provision. In addition to this, Enable, who look after the Common on behalf of the Council, are investigating suitable funding opportunities through a number of sources. We’re hoping that this results in additional toilet provision in addition to the café soon.
On a separate but related point, the rats are enjoying a lot of the bread which is currently fed to the ducks on the Common. As part of a way to tackle this, Enable have been developing new signage focussed on the provision of food for ducks and to remind visitors not to leave food during their visit. Expect to see these popping up in the coming weeks.
South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust (SWLSTG) have launched a new community survey as part of South London Listens to help find the solutions to the impact Covid-19 has had on the mental health of our communities.
4,700 people from across South London have already taken part in listening events and shared their experiences and ideas for how we can solve the biggest challenges facing our communities. Join them by taking the survey now and help SWLSTG reach as many people as possible by sharing it with your family and friends.
The recent flooding on Tooting Common is the worst its been in many years. The council has told us that this is due to “rainwater run-off from the railway, poorly draining soil, and blocking drains in surrounding roads”.
The council intends to adopt a plan of “increasing drain capacity by replacing the current drains with larger bore items. General grounds maintenance will not fix this particular issue.” The council and Thames Water will be working together on this.
Before this week’s flooding, we enquired about the council’s plans to address the general wear and tear of the common after the spike in use over the past year. We received a very informative reply which we have copied here with permission:
Both ourselves and Enable are acutely aware of the impacts the pandemic, historic ground conditions, and wet weather have made in creating the environment we currently see in our parks and commons across Wandsworth, and in this particular case Tooting Common. We have spoken to Enable’s Head of Parks for an overview of the situation, and while discussions have taken place around the strategy for tackling; endemic waterlogging in winter, new desire lines, eroded and compacted areas, damaged habitats and more, with the current lockdown #3 and no clear end date, very little can be done right now given this is the major cause of the increased wear and tear. Remedial work will be planned for spring, as the winter conditions make this type of work difficult and often counter-productive, with even lightweight machinery on the ground likely to make the situation worse.
For now, Enable will continue to monitor areas and log damage as they see it. This will build their priority lists for improvements that could be worked on from the spring, assuming lockdown status has been lifted. It is extremely likely however that any significant/longer term and practical remedial works will not be carried out until well in to 2021 at the very earliest. Space still needs to be allowed for social distancing, and attempting to close off areas, block areas either side of paths, fencing off pitches/parts of parks/commons etc. could be extremely negative for users and would likely cause any temporary obstructions/fencing to be forcibly removed to allow ‘rights to roam’. It is a catch 22 situation to some extent as we would need to remove valuable space from use in order to improve it. The current approach is to accept damage in some key areas in the short term, and where possible ensure that the majority of space continues to be protected and well managed. The longer term strategic view will be to remediate those worst affected areas and/or design-out damage through planting or pathway network improvements.
In the short term we will see the following process being adopted:
Site assessment and identification of priority areas to improve
Tackling newly observed desire lines with temporary path closures/fencing etc.
Closing off areas to allow for remedial works (such as ground breaking, overseeding and de-compaction)
Re-seeding or the possible replanting of areas.
Ongoing maintenance and monitoring.
Enable have already started tackling some of the newer desire lines that appear in woodland areas by blocking pathways etc with ‘dead-hedge’ structures and associated information notices. They have also dismantled some of the dens that have been erected in wooded areas during the summer (which damage habitats for local species). Where it has been possible to make remedial works without impacting the availability for the public to use greenspaces this is already being done, ground conditions permitting. Longer term drainage works such as that to playing surfaces as seen on Wandsworth Common do help address short term localised flooding but require surveys, careful assessment and planning to ensure the right intervention in the right area, so are not overnight remedies I’m afraid.
In regards to the point on contractors vans, while this is something that will likely never be fully eradicated it is already documented within the new contract, and we would expect any new contractor to adhere to their obligations.
I hope that the above is sufficient information to allay fears that nothing is or will be done to address the damage being caused by the vastly increased footfall. Works will be targeted to those areas seen as having the best likelihood of success in the short term with more work being done as weather, ground conditions and tier restrictions allow, and longer term work to follow. A further update can be provided once we have a clearer indication of the timeline for the easing of restrictions and the consequent impact on Enable’s planning for remedial works.
Your definition of “interesting” may be different to mine, but this explains why it seems like the fountains are regularly “broken”. As the person responsible for the fountains within the overall Tooting Common Heritage project recently explained to us:
“…the push buttons have to be pressed 2 or more times to allow the water to flow through the water jets. This is due to the internal workings of the fountain that formed part of the lottery funding for the heritage project, whereby all of the internal workings of the fountain had to be engineered precisely to the fountain’s 1930s specification. Consequently the system replicates engineering from yesteryear and is not in keeping with more modern water fountains.”
The upshot is “some patience will have to be exercised when using the fountain”.
Enjoy refreshing yourself in 30s style (although maybe wait until after everyone’s had their vaccines).
There are two grit bins on Bedford Hill, at the junctions with Ritherdon Road and Culverden Road. As far as I can tell from this webpage: https://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/streets/road-gritting/grit-bins/ – this grit is for residents to use on their residential roads – so you are free to use it if you wish. I appreciate that lugging grit back to your front door is not ideal but could be an option if a quick fix is needed.
Dafforne Road is closed from the junction with Upper Tooting Road to the junction with Romberg Road for SGN utility works, with an estimated date of completion of 31/01/2021. If you need to contact SGN, dial 01372 737 416.
Hillbury Road will be closed from the junction with Bedford Hill for carriageway works commencing 06/01/2021 to 05/02/2021. Contact: Tim Addlesee 0208 871 8202.
Road works bulletins can be found on the council’s website here: https://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/roadworks/this-weeks-roadworks-and-road-closures/
We previously commented on the council trying to avoid a requirement for a green roof on this building in this post.
You can now find all the details of the Council’s application to the Planning Inspectorate for consent to carry out improvements at Tooting Bec Lido, specifically the construction of a new electrical sub-station and the demolition and rebuilding of the south room of the pump house together with associated trenching and cable laying works, here:
The roof will sadly be a steel profile sheet roof with sunpipes – the green roof is gone. Update: the council have confirmed there was a mistake in the documents and there will in fact be a green roof! Hooray!
This application was approved by the Wandsworth Council Planning Applications Committee and is now being considered by the Planning Inspectorate, as it concerns works on common land.
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It contains lots of useful information about the Streetspace programme and why it’s necessary right now. But, the programme can always be improved, so if you have comments please do feed them in to TfL by email to email@example.com