Viridor submits changes in materials of approved path for Beddington Farmlands

The NDG were invited at the beginning of the year to sit on the Conservation and Access Management Committee (CAMC). Due to the Coronavirus, the first meeting we were suppose to attend in March, including a site visit was cancelled. A video conference subsequently took place on 18 June 2020.

The meetings are attended by local councillors from Hackbridge and Beddington, Sutton Council officers, Viridor, Penon Group, Thames Water, MKA Ecology, London Wildlife Trust and community representatives from both Hackbridge and Beddington.

Minutes from these meetings, the Conservation Science Group and other relevant documentation, can be found on Viridor’s website.

Application to vary Condition 42 of the Restoration Management Plan

Part of the Restoration Management Plan (RMP) is to deliver a cycle route to Sustran’s quality through the Farmlands.

Viridor are now proposing to change the cycle route (see no. 11 on the map above) to the existing permissive path (no. 6 above) and for the original cycle route to become a mowed path. The reasons being that because the path goes over landfill it would be subject to settlement, which could result in a cracked cycle route and ongoing maintenance.

Our concerns

  • We were astounded that proper DDA access from both Hackbridge and Beddington up to the Wandle Vista views was not part of the RMP. Instead there is one cycle route, the permissive path (to remain ‘unmade’) and various mown paths.
  • Changing the permissive path to Sustran quality is a good thing, as it should make it DDA accessible from Beddington Park and the same material will be used going into the bird hides, but this saves Viridor money on existing obligations.
    • The permissive path was churned up due to works by Viridor and SDEN and money should already be available to restore it to an acceptable quality. (We are waiting to hear back from Sutton Council as to what these obligations are.)
    • The gravel used to access the bird hides we believed was a temporary solution in a rush to show Sutton Council progress at the HEB Council meeting in October 2019. It is hard to walk on, let alone anyone with a disability, as the gravel is too deep. You can see the desire lines down each side where people are trying to avoid it.
  • The original cycle route takes you onto the Farmlands and up near to the Wandle Vista views, unlike the permissive path. If it then becomes a mown path, it will be inaccessible in wet weather due to the heavy clay.
  • It is important to remember that in years to come, the view from the road bridge by Hackbridge Station is likely to change due to trees maturing and the permissive path will be the same, with only the 3 bird hides providing a view to the Farmlands.
  • In short, changing the original bike route, to the permissive path and replacing it with a mown path does not deliver the same benefits to the community.

What next?

  • Viridor acknowledged the need to discuss access onto the site and at the CAMC suggested a sub-group is formed. We are waiting for dates for a site visit to see what the constraints are of the original cycle path and whether different material could be used. Also to discuss the options of opening an east/west access, which is not part of the original RMP. We have produced our own map (see screen shot below) with indicative routes we want to investigate the feasibility of opening.
    • It includes the Wandle Vista point that the original cycle route doesn’t quite reach.
    • A new footbridge to replace Irrigation Bridge that Network Rail demolished in February 2017. We got it listed in Sutton’s Local Plan, but it needs funding from somewhere!
  • We are waiting to hear back from Sutton Council how the public can respond to these changes as currently the comment button on their planning portal is disabled, but we have been told we will be able to comment. We just need to know how and when the deadline is!
  • We are working with local organisations and residents to ensure there is proper access onto the Farmlands.
  • Once we have further information, we can let you know how you can help!
Click on map to view key and description of routes to be explored. Light blue – existing paths needing improvement. Yellow – new access

Further information

  • Beddington Farmlands website
  • Wandle Valley Forum – petitioned for Sutton Council to hold Viridor to account in the delay of restoring the Farmlands and not waiting until 2023 before taking action.
  • Wandle Vistas – a project led by landscape consultants Untitled Practice and Fiona Fyfe Associates, with guidance and input from the Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust, Wandle Valley Forum and Greater London Authority. You can see both the leaflet of view points (Beddington Farmlands is no.10) and the technical documentation.


  1. I always believed the permissive path was a right of way footpath, as it has been used for over 20 years. Can we be sure that this valuable walk will not be closed if Viridor decide to. Their commitment to other path changes do not fill me with confidence.

    1. We have looked into it and understand that although it may have been used for over 20 years, it has always been a permissive path, with Thames Water owning the land.

      We have had conversations with Viridor and a site visit, which was positive and are waiting for their feedback. We hope this will reflect our concerns and prove for better access.

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