Author Archives: Hector Denfield

Tooting Common flooding and wear and tear – what the council is doing

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:

  1. Site assessment and identification of priority areas to improve
  2. Tackling newly observed desire lines with temporary path closures/fencing etc.
  3. Closing off areas to allow for remedial works (such as ground breaking, overseeding and de-compaction)
  4. Re-seeding or the possible replanting of areas.
  5. 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.

Interesting fact about the water fountains at the southern end of Dr Johnson Avenue

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).

Tree felling in Bedford ward – January 2021

We often get enquiries about why certain trees are removed from our streets. The council has a duty to cut down dangerous/diseased trees. A few are due to go in Bedford ward over the next few weeks:

Plot #SpeciesRoadReason for removal
7239Prunus SerrulaMantilla RoadBasal decay, fungal body, trunk decay, Ganoderma fungus
7534Prunus AviumMontana RoadCrown decay
7537Prunus PandoraMontana RoadCrown decay, trunk decay
1068.09Prunus Hillieri SpireTopsham RoadDieback, trunk decay

In terms of timescales for replacement, the council has said “We hope to re-plant in the vacant pits but this may not be in this winter period.”

Further temporary road closures in Bedford ward – Jan, Feb and Mar 2021

Avoca Road will be closed from the junction with Topsham Road to the junction with Tooting Bec Road for SGN utility works from 18/01/2021 to 29/03/2021. Contact: SGN 01372 737 416.

Balham Station Road will be closed outside Balham Station for Network Rail works, overnight only from the evening of 18/01/2021 to the morning of 19/01/2021. Contact: Network Rail 07956 907 175.

Franciscan Road multi-way temporary traffic signals outside number 276 for Openreach utility works on 24/01/2021 only. Contact: Openreach 03301 233 753.

The estimated completion date for Hillbury Road (closed from the junction with Bedford Hill for carriageway works) has changed from 05/02/2021 to19/02/2021. 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/

Winter gritting in Wandsworth

It’s shaping up to be a cold winter so gritting of roads and pavements may be necessary.

The council’s webpages on gritting are here: https://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/streets/road-gritting/road-gritting-how-we-prepare-for-winter/

You can request for your street to be gritted, or if your street should have been gritted and it has not been, by emailing onstreetservices@wandsworth.gov.uk

There is also a map of grit bins in the borough here: https://maps.wandsworth.gov.uk/map/Aurora.svc/run?embedded=true&nocache=0.3080626783303324&script=%5cAurora%5cpublic.AuroraScript%24&=undefined&hide_layers=Housing,School,GP,TPO,Local_Plan,Plan_Live,Plan_Decided&x=528981.127&y=172342.144&scale=8192

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.

Road closures in Bedford ward in January 2021

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/

Wandsworth Council submits planning application for Tooting Lido pump room to Planning Inspectorate

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:

https://wandsworth.gov.uk/planning-and-building-control/planning-consultations-and-developments/tooting-common-application/tooting-bec-lido-application/

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.

If you wish to comment, please email commonlandcasework@planninginspecorate.gov.uk

Streetspace for London FAQ from TfL

TfL have published a new “frequently asked questions” page for the Streetspace for London programme here: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/general/a2d0760e/

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 streetspacelondon@tfl.gov.uk

Council submits Tooting Triangle planning application

See our previous post on this issue here: Our comments on the Tooting Triangle planning application

The council has submitted its application to the Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to make renovations and extensions to the buildings at Tooting Triangle, as well as enclosing the current hard surface pitch next to the buildings so that it can be rented out commercially.

A copy of the application form and accompanying documents can be viewed at wandsworth.gov.uk/tooting-common-application

The application form and accompanying documents will be available until Monday 14 December 2020.

You can send any representations on the application on or before 14 December to: commonlandcasework@planninginspectorate.gov.uk

Representations sent to the Planning Inspectorate cannot be treated as confidential. They will be copied to the applicant and possibly to other interested parties. For information about how The Planning Inspectorate processes personal information please see the Common Land Privacy Policy at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/common-land-guidance-sheet-13-privacy-policy

Update on LTNs

The council’s Strategic Planning and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee met on 4 November and included an update on the council’s “Transport Action Plan”, which discussed the recently suspended Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs).

In summary:

The Oakmead Road barrier will be reinstated.

In future there will be a full public consultation and council committee discussion prior to the introduction of a major traffic management scheme.

The Council recognises that a more incremental approach in delivering the LTN trials in and around the A24 and A214 may have helped.

The consultation responses to the Tooting Commons LTN are set out in this table:

The data collected in the Tooting Commons LTN are set out in this table (click to view full size):

Paragraphs 43 to 53 of the paper go into more detail about the results of the Tooting Commons LTN trial.

The council appears to have adopted a new approach to certain “essential local distributor roads”, and provides a non-exhaustive list that includes Elmbourne Road. The upshot is that:

“it may not be possible to reduce the traffic volume to a level below 300vph criteria
unless draconian measures can be implemented and are broadly supported by
adjacent residential roads”

However, the council is to continue with the traffic calming measures on Elmbourne Road and Hillbury Road until fully implemented and monitored for a period 12 months after completion as per standard practice.

The reports presented at the meeting can be downloaded here: https://democracy.wandsworth.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=678&MId=6608

The Transport Action Plan was item 3 on the agenda, Paper No. 20.337.