Visitors to Barn Elms 10,000 every weekend
New research has shown really how popular the proposed site of a major tunnelling project is - with about 10,000 visitors every weekend.
Barn Elms playing fields between Putney and Barnes is under threat after Thames Water announced in November plans to build a main drive at the site for the 14-mile-long Thames Tunnel super sewer.
But Wandsworth Council has conducted surveys of the affected areas to find out usage and is investigating the impact of tunnelling on this location, hoping to persuade the water company to base it on a brownfield site where the effects would be less severe.
The surveys found the riverside towpath, which is popular with walkers, cyclists and joggers, saw just shy of 5,000 visitors from 7.30am to 8.30pm on May 22 (Sunday), giving a weekend average of around 10,000.
Barn Elms playing fields saw 173,252 people visit from April 2010 to March 2011, and is regularly used by 12 schools, 18 cricket clubs, 11 football teams and six rugby teams.
The Barn Elms boathouse was also used by 43,219 people from April 2010 to March 2011, with school children being regular visitors.
Councillors are concerned the tunnelling compound and waste transfer jetty would ruin people’s enjoyment of this unique and unspoilt area for a generation.
They argue that highly disruptive, noisy and polluting works should take place on a brownfield site, not a greenfield sports and leisure venue.
Sian Baxter, chairwoman of Stop the Shaft, a residents' campaign group opposing the plans to build on Barn Elms, said: “These numbers speak for themselves. Thames Water need to understand how many thousands of Londoners will be affected if they locate the main drive shaft at Barn Elms, not to mention the impact on wildlife.
"These figures are for the Wandsworth half of the playing fields and don't include the numerous other schools and clubs that use the Richmond half. Playing fields and natural spaces are too scarce as it is and once lost they will be gone forever, we must fight to protect them now.”
For more information visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/savebarnelms or stoptheshaft.org.