Sutton Bingham site improvements

Sutton Bingham site improvements

The Sutton Bingham improvement project will make visiting the reservoir easier for those with less mobility and improve the quality of the facilities provided, in particular, the picnic area.

Background

Constructed in 1955, Sutton Bingham reservoir holds more than 2,600 million litres of water and spans an area of up to 143 acres.

Today the reservoir supplies water to the local area as well as providing resilience to our regional supply network to ensure we have the resources needed to supply customers in extreme circumstances.

The reservoir is also a popular place to visit and offers a picnic area, trout fishery and sailing, model boat and canoe clubs.

It plays an important part in providing opportunities for local communities to get outdoors, take an interest in nature and participate in recreational activities.

Surrounded by high value grassland, woodland and other rich areas of habitat the reservoir is often visited by birdwatchers and other nature lovers.

There has been a settlement at the site of the reservoir since the medieval period and the Manor House and Norman church remain nearby.

We now have plans to update and improve accessibility and the facilities at Sutton Bingham which will benefit both local communities and visitors.

You can find out about our plans below. Please let us know what you think by giving us feedback.

 

The vision

Sutton Bingham is a place celebrated and protected by local communities, set in beautiful surroundings and within an area of ecological importance. It is vital that the reservoir is con-served while also accessed by local people and visitors.

We want to ensure that people of all abilities can have an enjoyable experience at the reservoir.

Sutton Bingham is a place where visitors can:

  • visit to escape the pressures of modern life
  • spend quality time outdoors with family and friends
  • connect with nature
  • discover more about conservation, the natural world and water efficiency through events and education
  • improve their health and wellbeing by taking part in activities such as walking, angling and sailing.

Through the community user group, development of management plans and partnership working with local groups, we will continue to ensure the reservoir is an enjoyable and sustainable place to visit.

Our aim is to make Sutton Bingham an attractive and accessible place for families and individuals wanting a day out in the great outdoors. Following the challenges faced by so many in 2020, improving access to access to outdoor spaces has never been so important. 

 

Health and wellbeing

Sutton Bingham is a great location for anyone wishing to improve their health and wellbeing by accessing green and blue spaces, taking part in physical activity and play, connecting with nature or taking part in social and educational activities.

Improved facilities at Sutton Bingham will ensure a safe, accessible and free to access re-source is available for visitors of all ages and abilities from our local communities to take part in activities such as:

  • walking
  • children’s play
  • open green space and views over the water
  • nature trails and activities
  • relaxation and mindfulness (a place to escape and unwind)
  • picnicking.

Wildlife and nature

Sutton Bingham is home to a range of important species and habitats including birds, butter-flies, bugs bees, bats, hoverflies and traditional hay meadows of local importance.

We manage these carefully for their natural value and provide access to visitors for their enjoyment, wellbeing and education.

The picnic area itself is predominantly an amenity area and has lower natural value than the surrounding areas such as the meadows.

Therefore we have focused the improvements and provision of benches and other facilities here and will continue to provide access for those wishing to walk and connect with other areas of the site.

We will be reviewing our conservation management plan for the area and seeking to make further improvements where possible in the way that we manage scrub, grassland and trees in order to create a shared space for people and nature.

One example of this is the introduction of a wildflower meadow area near the picnic area entrance which will both be attractive and create a new habitat for wildlife.

We will support people with interests such as birdwatching or research to further our shared understanding of the local environment. We are also exploring how we may enable the wider community to learn new skills, develop their understanding of the environment through volunteering activities or small events which may be delivered through our partnerships charities such as local wildlife trusts and similar community groups.

Education

We want to help current and future generations appreciate and value the importance of the natural world, water resources and the benefits of leading healthy and active lifestyles.

Our team of education advisers deliver classroom and site-based lessons with for up to 25,000 schoolchildren every year across our region.

Following the improvements to the picnic site we will work with our expert team to create new and engaging on-site interpretation to help visitors learn more about the natural environment and water resource. This is likely to include updating signage and a mix of activity sheets and small on-site seasonal events for visitors to enjoy during their visit.

Previously we had looked at installing small shelters which would also provide spaces for educational activities, however, following previous consultation these have now been removed from the improvement plan in the picnic area.

Activities

With an active fishery and local community sports clubs based at the reservoir, there are qualified instructors available for those wishing to discover and learn a new sport.

We hope that people visiting the picnic area will be able to see these fantastic activities taking place first hand and this in turn will spark an interest to try a new activity in the great out-doors, supporting local clubs to increase participation and physical activity.

Wessex Water manages the fishing on site, and we will continue to promote the sport and provide new opportunities for people to try or improve at the sport, including family fishing days, beginner courses, hints / tips from rangers and improver sessions with qualified coaches.

We will also work with the resident community clubs, run by dedicated volunteers, to support them in delivering their activities and encouraging more people to benefit from their offer.

While there is no self-launch of craft or wild swimming available at the reservoir for safety and water quality reasons, members of the community can take to the water through on-site clubs where safety standards and procedures are in place:

 

The work

Over the past two years we have talked with local communities and users about priorities for Sutton Bingham reservoir.

Following detailed community consultation in spring and summer 2020, we have revised our proposals and are looking to make some improvements in 2021.

We would like to hear your feedback ahead of a formal planning application - you can do this using this form. 

You can also sign up to receive updates about the improvements by email or to join our Community User Group for the site which has been established as a forum for ongoing collaboration.

Our aim is to make visiting the reservoir easier for those with accessibility issues and improve the quality of the facilities provided, in particular, the picnic area.

This will involve:

  • creating a welcome arrival for visitors at the entrance
  • improving accessibility around the site
  • updating the existing toilet facilities
  • improving surfacing around the toilet block
  • installing a water refill point to reduce single use plastic
  • adding new tables and benches
  • providing back racks for those arriving by bicycle
  • enhancing the existing play area for younger children
  • installing new signage to help visitors discover more about Sutton Bingham reservoir
  • creating an outlook from the picnic area through improved vegetation management to give visitors a view of the water and activities.
 

Minimising environmental impact

We are committed to protecting and enhancing the environment and will ensure that any future improvements to Sutton Bingham minimise damage to existing habitats. We have an expert team of ecologists and independent consultants who complete thorough surveys of the area to advise on mitigating or compensating for all works.

Whilst some short term impact is inevitable, we will deliver a longer term net gain in biodiversity by:

  • avoiding all healthy trees
  • focusing new infrastructure and paths on areas of grassland which are of low natural value
  • planning to recycle waste materials
  • introducing a new wildflower meadow area
  • improving the conservation management regime of scrub and trees within the picnic area
  • using permeable stone paths which balance accessibility with low impact and use natural materials wherever possible.

Project development and consultation

Over the past two years, and particularly in spring/summer 2020, we have consulted about the improvements with a range of visitors, community members, visitors, neighbours, local organisations including sports clubs and parish, district and county councils.

We have listened to their feedback and concerns and have amended our current proposals to incorporate these. These are summarised below as questions and answers.