PROTECTING CROSSNESS NATURE RESERVE – HOW YOU CAN HELP
The former electricity sub-station site along Norman Road, adjoining the south-east corner of the northern part of the marshes, has been divided into four sections, each of which will be subject to a planning application for re-development. One project has already been given the go-ahead, and unfortunately we have missed the boat on that. A second planning application is currently open to public comment until this coming Monday 20th January, seeking permission for a combined office, general industrial and storage/distribution facility.
How does this affect Crossness Nature Reserve?
There is now very little of our precious Thames-side grazing marsh left in London. Everyone says how important it is for nature conservation, yet it continues to be chipped away at e.g. the Veridion Park development on the southern marshes, and the proposed Prologis facility at Crayford Marshes. Those of us who love these areas feel increasingly hemmed in. Yes, there was a much bigger industrial facility on this part of Norman Road until recently, but with Plovers, Little-ringed Plovers, Skylarks, Barn Owls and Water Voles using adjoining areas and, in some cases the brownfield areas themselves for breeding, it is important that any approved development has wildlife-friendly planting and does not disturb these species with inappropriate lighting. We should also urge the Council to insist, in line with its own policies, on an ‘extensive’ green roof (that is, a ‘brown’ roof, which mimics ‘mosaic’/brownfield habitat), which can be beneficial for rare invertebrates, a number of which, such as the Shrill Carder Bee, have recently been found at Crossness – otherwise we are going to get a bare, grey metal shed, completely surrounded by asphalt.
How you can help.
Time is short (for which apologies), but you can help influence the outcome of the planning application by submitting some comments of your own over this weekend. Most such applications attract very few public comments, so if 20-30 people (how about 50 or more …..) were to write in, that would have a lot of impact. Conveying your passion for, and understanding of the real value of retaining what ‘wide open’ feel of the marshes we still can, is just as important as technical and policy arguments. We have suggested some points you might wish to make below, but do mention what you love about the place and how long you have been going there. You do not need to be a Bexley resident to write in to the Council.
We think it is worth making the point about not building on these sites, and instead restoring them for nature, in order to influence longer term Council thinking, even though we probably won’t win that argument this time round. The Council has officially recognised that the need for industrial land in the Borough is declining, and is factoring this into its plans. We need to be arguing that consolidation of industrial land in Bexley should take place in a planned way that enables important wildlife sites to be enlarged and not diminished, and for new ground-level wildlife corridors to be created between isolated sites.
Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org attention of the Case Officer Mr M J Apperley, by the end of this coming Monday 20th January, stating that they refer to planning application 13/00918/FULM for the former electricity generating station site on Norman Road, Belvedere.
We would be grateful if you could also copy in Crossness Nature Reserve Manager Karen Sutton Karen.Sutton@thameswater.co.uk and Chris Rose email@example.com, the Vice-chair of Bexley Natural Environment Forum, so that we can see how many people are making submissions, and pick up on any new arguments we may have overlooked.
Some suggested points to make
- I believe that there should be no more development on land that was clearly part of the Erith Marshes, on either the marsh north of Eastern Way, or on the southern marsh, including what are now brownfield sites. In the longer term, Bexley Council’s objective of protecting and enhancing biodiversity in open spaces is more likely to be met by enlarging them than pursuing a policy of trying to cram more wildlife into ever smaller areas.
- I think the Council should use the trend for a reduction and consolidation of industrial land in the Borough, that it has formally identified in its Local Development Framework, in a planned way that will allow for the re-enlargement of important wildlife sites onto neighbouring brownfield land.
If the Council is minded to approve this application then:
- The Council should stipulate that the roof should be an ‘extensive’ green roof (otherwise known as a brown roof). This would create bownfield (‘mosaic’) habitat which has been identified by Buglife as highly important in the London Gateway, and would contribute to the creation of replacement habitat of this type for that lost to development, as encouraged by the London Plan. Bexley Council’s own ‘Enhancement/mitigation priorities for biodiversity’ document calls for brown roofs on new ‘Industrial buildings anywhere, but especially close to the River Thames’.
- There should be stringent conditions regarding lighting, and monitoring of compliance, to minimise light pollution. Lighting should be confined to the Norman Road facade, except for any minimal safety/security lighting on the other sides exposed to the marshes, which should be motion-sensor triggered and only manually turned on when absolutely needed. Lighting should be directed wholly downward, onto low reflectivity surfaces, and only of an intensity necessary for safety purposes. I note the suggestion that the site might be used 24 hours a day, and do not want to see even more light spilling out over the remaining fragment of marshes all night, every night, impacting on Bats and other species.
- The development should not be wholly surrounded by asphalt as currently proposed. There should be appropriate native planting, or bare ground should be left to colonise naturally from the adjoining Crossness Nature Reserve.
Thanks and best wishes,
Karen Sutton Karen.Sutton@thameswater.co.uk, Crossness Nature Reserve Manager
Chris Rose firstname.lastname@example.org, Vice-chair, Bexley Natural Environment Forum