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.
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:
open green space and views over the water
nature trails and activities
relaxation and mindfulness (a place to escape and unwind)
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.
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.
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:
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.
While Sutton Bingham is already enjoyed by many visitors, we want to ensure that the site is accessible to anyone who may wish to visit and that the facilities provided meet visitor expectations. Our priorities are to improve ease of movement throughout the site and to update basic provision such as the playground and toilets.
No, the reservoir is part of an operational site and for security and safety reasons will continue to be opened and closed in line with seasonal opening hours. The site is normally closed over the winter months, however, with improved paths and surfacing we hope that it will be usable 12 months of the year in the future.
We do not expect there to be a significant increase in visitor numbers as a result of the improvements. However, over the past few years and especially during 2020 we have seen a natural increase in demand for outdoor spaces across all of our sites. Other providers report the same and therefore we are seeking to make sure we can accommodate this demand for the site.
When we hold events or activities, these will be small in size and in keeping with the site and values. They may include guided walks, conservation workshops, nature / water education or similar. From time to time we may work with the local sports clubs to encourage health and wellbeing or sports events, but again this will be scaled to suit the site.
Swimming is not allowed in any Wessex Water reservoir.
Sutton Bingham does not have any suitable areas for introducing cycling. Bike parking will be provided in the car park for cyclists.
To improve access for visitors of all levels of personal mobility, we aim install self-compacting stone paths in line with good practice guidance such as Countryside for All . This will inform the surface type as well as gradients and cambers to ensure that all visitors can access as much of the site as possible. By creating new paths, we will also connect different areas of the site and facilities while also safely segregating visitors from vehicles on the roadway.
As part of the revised plans we hope to include a path and gate which will enable our visitors to access the nearby church directly from the car park. We will work with the church to enable their parishioners to benefit from car parking and facilities in the picnic area wherever possible.
No, we had initially considered installing a new small toilet facility but after consultation we will be improving the existing block by updating the fixtures and fittings within the existing block.
No. After consultation and to ensure we deliver maximum value for money, we will now be retaining the existing roadways and parking areas. We will make some minor improvements to these such as dedicated disabled parking bays and minimal road markings to help people with parking.
No, following previous consultation and concerns arising around anti-social behaviour these have now been removed from the scheme.
We aim to reduce visitor impact to the environment by providing paths and benches to create a natural route and offer alternatives to sitting on valuable grassland habitats.
We will also help to guide and educate visitors about how to care for the environment by providing information on our website before they visit and on-site information as well as sup-port from our team of rangers.
We will be introducing an enhanced conservation management plan for the small trees and scrub at the eastern end of the picnic area. This will maintain the habitat value and connectivity for local species such as dormice, while also reducing the height of the vegetation to re-establish views out to the water from the picnic area. The large willows to the north will not be affected.
It has been independently confirmed that a number of Ash trees in the picnic area are suffering from Ash Die Back. These trees are scheduled to be removed before the improvement works start and will be replaced with suitable species.
This is essential work to manage the safety of our visitors, neighbours and nearby highways, and does not form part of the proposed improvements. However, we have designed the new improvements based on the site layout following these works.
We expect the opposite as research shows that an improved, cared for and well managed facility is less likely to fall victim of ASB and vandalism.
Where concerns have been raised by the local community, we have already worked along-side the local police to address this and help make our communities a safer place for all including the security measures described below.
Following on from the work we undertook around ASB, we will be improving the security of the site in three key ways:
upgrading perimeter gates to effected areas, installing climb resistant rural / agricul-tural gates and fencing to remain in keeping with the site and area
engaging a third party security company to support our rangers and keep staff and visitors safe. This includes a phone number where visitors or neighbours can report problems to us 24/7
establishing a network of residents, councillors and the Police to support and deliver community action where incidents are outside of our management control
If you are a regular visitor or want to get involved with the future of Sutton Bingham reservoir, you could join our community user group which is a forum to discuss the development of the site or just receive updates on the development