Below is a written response from Wandsworth Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, Cllr Jonathan Cook, to my question on the Wandle Trail’s ‘missing link’, submitted at the Council meeting of 14 October. I will be meeting with an officer from the planning team next month, so if you have questions you would like me to put to them please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
a) What commitments has the Council made, and what action is it taking, to address the Wandle Trail’s ‘missing link’ in Earlsfield (between Ravensbury Road and Trewint Street);
b) How is the Council currently working with Merton Council and other key stakeholders to ensure the planned redevelopment of the Haslemere Industrial Estate is seized as an opportunity to close the ‘missing link’; and
c) What action is being taken by the Council more generally to increase access and use of the Wandle Trail as part of its commitments to improving public health in the Borough?
(a) As Councillor Stokes knows, the Wandle Trail detours onto local streets in Earlsfield and neither Wandsworth nor Merton Council control land by the river in this location to complete a continuous riverside route. Pedestrians and cyclists would be far better served by a continuous route but a solution is not easy due to land ownership issues and the proximity of the railway. Previous design options were not supported by the Environment Agency as they required works in and on the banks of the river. Network Rail has also previously not supported any measure that has to be fastened to the underside of its bridge. We have made no commitments to complete the link as to do so could unreasonably raise local expectations on an issue that is not solely within our power to deliver.
(b) The prospective developers of Haslemere Industrial Estate have indicated redevelopment would provide public access to the river; however, this could still leave gaps in the Trail to the north and south of the site. The extent to which redevelopment of the site could help deliver the missing link would be closely considered. However, the developers have not made contact with the Council, which we have requested regarding concerns we have about the impact of the redevelopment on local residential amenity.
(c) The Wandle Trail provides an excellent environment for activities like walking, cycling and jogging as does nearby King George’s Park and other public open spaces. Officers within Housing and Community Services and Public Health work closely to ensure that our transport and physical activity initiatives are coordinated where appropriate. Our cycling strategy currently in production is expected to take this work further by targeted promotion of cycling in areas with greater health issues, although these areas are not generally located near the Wandle Trail.