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No. 18   February 2017
Hackbridge railway bridges demolished but campaign continues
*  Council Leader Ruth Dombey agrees to Sutton Council debate on Wandle Valley Forum petition for a replacement bridge
*  Sutton Council says "now is the time for action"
*  Silver lining could be to ignite opportunity for new Wandle Metropolitan Park
The demolition of the two Hackbridge railway bridges by Network Rail has begun. It will be completed by the end of the weekend.

We are determined to make sure this is only a setback for the ambitions to create a new Wandle Metropolitan Park stretching from Beddington Park to Mitcham. This vast area of open space - more than three times the size of Hyde Park - has never been coherently managed and much remains off limits. 

If the loss of the bridges can have a silver lining it is to reignite the momentum to deliver a new open space for London. The first green shoots are visible. In response to our representations for the Wandle Metropolitan Park to feature in Sutton's new Local Plan, Sutton Council has said that "now is the time for action". After a long period of silence Sutton Council Leader Ruth Dombey has told Wandle Valley Forum that she is "glad to work together to find ways of providing pedestrian access. Important for the future of the park." Ruth Dombey has also promised Wandle Valley Forum that our petition calling on Sutton Council to back a replacement bridge will be debated.

As a first step one thing is certain - any sensible plans for future public access are going to need better access over the railway. Sutton Council is already building a new school right next to where a new bridge will be needed. 

Show your support for a replacement bridge. Sign the petition. Then spread the word.
Sign the petition for a replacement railway bridge at Hackbridge

In the news - Our Hackbridge bridges campaign has attracted considerable press coverage including front page news in the Sutton Guardian and a feature on London Live tv news. Read the latest Sutton Guardian piece here.

Sutton Council Leader Ruth Dombey has also been publicising her correspondence with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling - read why she wanted to save the bridges here.
What is the Wandle Metropolitan Park? - This is the name we are giving to the vast area of open space stretching from Beddington Park to Mitcham's Three Kings Piece - it is more than three times the size of Hyde Park but is in multiple ownership, crosses borough boundaries and much is out of bounds. In the past there has been talk of a "country park" near Hackbridge and we also have Beddington Farmlands next to the new incinerator. Our ambition is much larger - to create a new Metropolitan Park serving London at the heart of the Wandle Valley Regional Park.
A day on the Wandle - Enjoy this short film showing how people appreciate the rvier. It was created by local students as one of the Living Wandle and Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust's initiatives.
History under our feet - Wandle film makers have been busy - this informative film provides much of interest about the plans for Merton Priory Chapter House as its restoration enters the most exciting phase.
Earlsfield developments - A flurry of development proposals in Earlsfield provides an opportunity to open up new access to the Wandle, including a new bridge. The proposals span the Merton/Wandsworth boundary so we have written to both Cabinet Members - Martin Whelton & Jonathan Cook. The letter is signed by local councillors from both boroughs, Wimbledon's MP and a number of local organisations. No response has yet been received.
idverde clean sweep of Wandle green spaces - With idverde taking on maintenance of Merton and Sutton's green spaces on 1 February and taking over Quadron it now has responsibility throughout the Wandle Valley. Its work is managed by Croydon, Merton and Sutton Councils and via Enable on behalf of Wandsworth.
Sutton Local Plan - Public consultation on the draft Local Plan looking ahead to 2031 has just finished. This places a helpful emphasis on Wandle issues but could go further. We have pressed for explicit recognition for the Wandle Metropolitan Park. Read our views.
Office block for Merton Abbey Mills - A new 5 storey office block is planned for Merton Abbey Mills to boost viability of the whole site. The plans are controversial and have been described as a "monolith" by local councillor & Merton Cabinet Member for Heritage & Leisure Nick Draper. Tell us what you think.
Feathers Wharf latest - The long running saga at the Wandle Delta continues with new plans for this large industrial site. We are pressing for the long promised open space overlooking the Wandle's arrival at the Thames to be included and dedicated public access.
New South Wimbledon BID - The Wandle Valley has around 20% of London's manufacturing base. A slew of industrial estates and Business Improvement Districts (BID) benefit from their location in the Regional Park. A new BID is now set to be established which includes part of the river downstream from Morden Hall Park in its area. A ballot of businesses is planned for April and the BID will generate over £125k from a levy on business rates. Environmental improvements along the Wandle could be one result.
Parliament addresses Lee Valley precept - Another effort to end the anomalous Lee Valley precept has been mounted in a Bill by Kingston MP James Berry. Over £1m is paid by the four Wandle boroughs to support the Lee Valley Regional Park while the Wandle Valley Regional Park struggles on a shoestring budget with less than £50k from these boroughs. Wandle Valley Forum is campaigning for a fairer funding regime.

Wandle Valley Forum provides support and an independent voice for over 100 community groups, voluntary organisations, businesses and people who share a passion for the Wandle. Support us by offering your time or making a donation. You can find out more on our website, contact us by email or get involved on twitter or Facebook using the links above.

This Bulletin is produced by Tony Burton,Wandle Valley Forum. We welcome feedback & please tell us of any errors

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