Threat to local marshes – opportunity to comment on Norman Road planning application

PROTECTING CROSSNESS NATURE RESERVE – HOW YOU CAN HELP

 What’s happening?

 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 developmentcontrol@bexley.gov.uk  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 chrisrose@gn.apc.org, 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 chrisrose@gn.apc.org, Vice-chair, Bexley Natural Environment Forum

 

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1 Response to Threat to local marshes – opportunity to comment on Norman Road planning application

  1. jonathanrooks@virginmedia.com says:

    I’ve made comments to Development Control – sent just in time!

    Norman Road development site 13/00918/FULM

    I am concerned about the above planning application which seems to be further damaging the area of the important Thames-side marshes.

    The importance of these marshes for conservation is recognised, theoretically, but there is a continual chipping away of the marshes and no thought apparently given to maintaining ground level wildlife corridors between the sites, nor to the benefits to wildlife of these brownfield sites.

    Bexley should be looking to increase the value of its wildlife areas and not looking to build on every brownfield site. There is a declining need for industrial sites in the Borough and what development there is should be in the areas of no potential for wildlife/environment enhancement and not piecemeal just because a developer has an ‘idea’ for a particular site.

    The Planning Committee may well be aware of how around the country areas of marshland are being expanded to allow for flood defences against rising sea level. It is not impossible that at some point soon we will want to be using the marshes as part of natural flood defences for the Borough considering how we are seeing increased incidences of flooding. The marshes need to be extended not further broken up if there is to be any prospect of using these as natural flood defences.

    Having discussed the development proposals with others, if the Council decides to approve the application, it should not miss the opportunity to mitigate the environmental impact.

    There are three main areas where some mitigation can be done:

    1. Ensuring there is an extensive ‘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’.

    2. Ensuring a reduction in light pollution which affects residents and wildlife. 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.

    3. 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.

    Regards

    Jonathan Rooks

    Chair – Greener Bexley

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