In July 2020, Viridor submitted an application to vary their planning conditions with respect to access onto the Farmlands. This was eventually withdrawn. (Read more about the application)
The NDG and Beddington North Neighbourhood Forum have been working together to come up with a proposal to Viridor for quality access onto the Farmlands, culminating in meetings with Ward Councillors, residents and Sutton Planning before presenting it at the Conservation and Access Management Committee (CAMC).
Viridor’s current obligations
- Sustrans ‘standard construction’ internal north/south path, which would include the requirement for an engineered cycle/footpath bridge to provide access from the edge of the landfill to ground level at Beddington Park. (Viridor have highlighted that this option is no longer viable due to settlement issues.)
- Mown paths in the meadow areas
Viridor / SDEN obligations
- Requirement to reinstate the permissive path after the work is completed
- Access to the bird hides to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act 2010. (Note – the current gravel-based solution is not accessible.)
Community proposed access routes
On 10 December we presented our proposal to members of the CAMC.
We noted that the Restoration Management Plan (RMP) that Viridor follows, did not have wider community input when it was written and consequently the access needs of the nearby communities were not given due consideration. With Viridor wanting to vary what is in the RMP, we see this as an opportunity to correct this omission. With only a few years left until the restoration is complete, we want to ensure that the access provided is to the highest quality and suitable for both locals and visitors alike, on par with other high profile nature reserves.
We created a map to show the need to look at access from a strategic point of view and how the Farmlands connects with the surrounding community. This will need further discussion with key stakeholders at a later stage.
Our proposal to Viridor was for 3 internal high quality ‘made’ routes highlighted in yellow on the map below and the resurfacing of the permissive path and bird hides (highlighted in blue). These are indicative routes that may need slight alteration to avoid conflict with any key wildlife habitats:
- North/south to Beddington Park, following the majority of the original Sustrans route, with the inclusion of a culvert crossing and round the southern lake to join the permissive path
- Mile Road bridge to Wandle Vista panoptic viewpoint, at the highest point of the landfill and down to the culvert
- East/west route from Beddington Lane
Our proposal was well received and supported by the Chair, Ward Councillors, Sutton Planning and Viridor. Whilst we view this as successful, there are still many conversations to be had to ensure the feasibility of each route. For instance part of the east/west route falls on Thames Water land, outside of Viridor’s lease area; we need to protect the site of the Scheduled Ancient Monument and we still need to see the detailed changes proposed to the permissive path to upgrade it to ‘Sustrans Standard’.
We feel this is a positive base to continue our discussions and work with Viridor, Sutton Council and Thames Water to secure these routes and agree a way forward that benefits both the local communities and Viridor; which would also support Viridor in the submission of a new planning application that includes the additional routes we have proposed.