Cross Keys Swing Bridge, Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire



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Location: East Bank, Sutton Bridge (52°48'26.4"N 0°12'47.9"E)
The nearest sat' nav' postcode is: PE12 9YT


Dec 6 2013

The East Lighthouse at Sutton Bridge - Update December 2013

At last! After months of restoration work, the East Lighthouse (also known as the Sir Peter Scott Lighthouse) gleams in the December sunshine, looking splendid with its new windows and special protective paint.....

The East Lighthouse as seen from the riverbank, showing the new camera appearing from out of the chimney top. This will enable all-round views of the surrounding landscape to be seen inside by visitors unable to climb to the top.

Close up of the camera emerged from its position in the chimney. The camera and the cap, to which it is attached, can be raised and lowered by a remote switch.

Video showing in situ operation of the Chimney Pot Camera

Nov 18 2013

The East Lighthouse at Sutton Bridge - Update November 2013

Light at the end of the Bank

The major repair and restoration work of the external walls and installation of replacement windows at the East Lighthouse are nearing completion and Doug Hilton, the owner, was hoping that the plastic wrapping and the scaffolding would have been ready to come down by the middle of November. However, another setback has meant this may be delayed for a little longer.

After carefully researching and obtaining the best available rendering (Roman cement) and state-of-the–art external paint, a number of sills show that the paint (silicone based) has not adhered as it should have done.

Doug Hilton, owner of the lighthouse

When we visited the lighthouse Doug was waiting for a Representative from the paint company to visit and advise on what to do next. In the meantime, Doug was pleased to show us what has been achieved in the months it has taken to complete this work.

The new windows are in place and provide all round clear visibility and because they all open either up and down or inwards, Doug will have easier access to carry out any minor work that might be necessary following any potential severe weather conditions.

Sash window and lantern window

Following visitor feedback from recent Open Days, Doug is currently installing a ‘magic eye’ that will give all-round views from the top of the lighthouse enabling those visitors who cannot climb to the top to see out into the Wash, as well as seals on the sandbanks and views over the surrounding countryside.

The ‘magic eye’ has been placed inside a stainless steel cage that will be inserted into the chimney. The cage has a ‘roof’ (cap) that will be placed over the chimney and can be raised and lowered electronically by remote control. Visitors will be able to experience the views on a monitor in the downstairs room of the lighthouse.

Visitor and the ‘magic eye’

Other work to be completed externally is the installation of a new lightening conductor.
Once the outside work has been finished and the scaffolding removed, Doug will be able to complete the inside work around the windows and carry out further rendering to make the window casements completely airtight and weatherproof.

Scaffolding and wind-torn plastic sheeting

One of the unexpected discoveries has been that the wall paintings of flying geese that Peter Scott painted on the first floor bedroom, and thought lost, may have been covered over. Evidence of the green paintwork that was originally used on the internal wall inside has been revealed where the windows have been installed and underneath the current emulsion paint. Doug is now looking to find ways of removing this paintwork to see if the original paintings are still there. If not, he hopes to replicate the work with the help of the previous owner Cmdr David Joel, who bought the lighthouse in a derelict state in 1984.

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Oct 10 2013

The East Lighthouse at Sutton Bridge - Update October 2013

Since our last update in July, some good news has emerged concerning the renovation works to the East Lighthouse that is being undertaken by the owners, Doug and Sue Hilton.

Following the very wet and long winter serious damage was done to the fabric (see below) and as a consequence the planned August open days had to be cancelled this year.

The problem was exacerbated because of the strict rules that apply to renovations on historic Grade II* listed buildings in general and the East Lighthouse in particular. Over a period of months, Doug Hilton researched solutions to the problems he faced in repairing it to the satisfaction of English Heritage.

The good news is that the lighthouse tower windows have now been replaced and the lantern room and top two lifts of the circular part of the tower have been rendered and Doug & Sue hope to have it completely rendered and the scaffold down and gone in about four weeks’ time.

One of the new tower windows in place

Applying the 'Roman cement' to the lantern window opening

Preparing the lantern window face for rendering

Finishing the base of the lantern level

Close up of the frieze below the lantern room

It has cost approximately £350 per week to keep the scaffolding in place, which has been necessary in order for the Hiltons to make sure they could get the right material for the render, to avoid it deteriorating in the future.

They have used ‘Roman Cement’, which usually has a fast setting time, and which would not have been suitable in this particular case in that form.. However, the restorers have been totally successful in slowing down the setting time and the lighthouse is the first building in more than one hundred years to use Roman Cement as a general use render material.

As a consequence of this success, the project has become a focus of interest for English Heritage, The Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings and many others institutions.

A film is to be made showing the lighthouse restoration and rendering process that has been carried out, as well a series of lectures planned to be presented at conservation seminars in the near future.

The Hiltons are delighted at how things have worked out. They are excited and pleased that the East Lighthouse, well known as the birthplace of global nature conservation, is now also playing its part in world-leading building conservation.

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July 8 2013

The East Lighthouse at Sutton Bridge - Update July 2013

You may have wondered what is happening at the East Lighthouse; you may have seen it ‘under wraps’ and wondered what was going on.

Looking towards the East Lighthouse from the gate

Scaffolding and protective wrapping

View from the riverside footpath

For Doug and Sue Hilton, the new owners of the Peter Scott Lighthouse, this is not good news.  The wettest year on record and the coldest winter for fifty years have taken their toll.  By the end of the long winter the sloping walls of the tower had become saturated and then froze, causing the render to crack at every level and in every direction.  This caused the water to pour in and brought parts of the ceiling down, damaging the recent internal re-decoration.

Cracks with patched panels ready to fall out

Consequently, the Hiltons’ plans to open the Lighthouse and the visitor centre as part of The Snowgoose Project in the near future have been delayed.

The lighthouse is not alone in this, as many historic buildings suffered similar problems.  English Heritage has continuing difficulty keeping ancient buildings dry and in particular, many of the church towers in their care and protection.

Doug Hilton has spent much time researching suitable solutions to this problem and has come across a rendering material that might work if an answer can be found to slow its setting time.

An additional problem was discovered when the new wooden replacement windows designed to be in keeping with its Grade II* listed status were ready to be installed.  Many structural brickwork repairs now have to be done before replacing the windows.  This is because of the strong likelihood that the brickwork may move again under the render, repeating the problems already faced.

The lantern room window and the exposed brickwork showing brickwork damage

This is not a new problem: when the previous owner, David Joel, bought the Lighthouse in 1985, he faced similar problems with damp and cracked render. Over the years he tried many methods of solving the problem but seemingly without success.

The East Lighthouse in c.1960

The East Lighthouse in 1986

Doug and Sue have spent a lot of money, time and effort on getting this project up and running and this latest setback has meant that the planned August opening has had to be cancelled as the scaffolding will still be in place. However they remain optimistic that the East Lighthouse will be accessible to visitors at some time in the not too distant future.

Other works are still being undertaken: new fencing to the garden area is being installed to keep the fox out! Some of the couple’s wildfowl—three geese and two ducks—have already been killed by the fox.

June 28 2013

The East Lighthouse at Sutton Bridge - Update June 2013

Due to necessary unforseen structural brickwork repairs, the refurbishment work to the East Lighthouse has had to be delayed. This means that the planned August 2013 Open Days at the Lighthouse have had to be cancelled. Doug and Sue Hilton are very sorry about this.

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July 28 2012

The East Lighthouse at Sutton Bridge - Update July 2012

Work has begun on the redesigned ponds at the East Lighthouse. The new owners, Doug and Sue Hilton, are planning to open a visitors centre — The Snowgoose Wildlife Trust — to attract people interested in wildlife and in particular the geese and other birds that use the Wash as their habitat.

Doug has drawn up plans to enlarge and re-design the ponds created by the previous owner Commander David Joel and in keeping with Peter Scott's preservation vision developed when he owned the lighthouse in the late forties.

Doug's ambitious plan is outlined above (previous article 28/6/12) and the first stage began on Monday, July 23rd, when the Centrica Contractors, Birse Civils, began work in digging out the profile for the new ponds. Centrica and their contractors, including Fen Ditching (who provided the diggers) were keen to take part in the work. Not only are the ponds being dug, but also the excess black clay that was used to line the breach in the sea defence will be transported from the field 1 site and used to line the new ponds at the Lighthouse.

The contractors reshaping the ponds according to Doug Hilton's plans.

This is mutually beneficial as Centrica has to clear the site within three weeks and is of enormous help to Doug Hilton. The cost is being borne by Centrica and their contractors as a goodwill gesture, partly because the East Lighthouse has metaphorically 'kept an eye on things' while the work on the sea wall and the marsh has been taking place during the past three years, and partly because those working there have developed an affection for the building.

Doug and Sue Hilton watching the diggers at work on the new ponds

Doug and Sue have also removed some of the trees in the drive, thus opening up the view of the lighthouse from the approach road and also from the river. It will also make access to the ponds and the footpaths easier when the site is fully developed.

View of the East Lighthouse from the drive, showing the newly-opened-up vista

The improved access to the upper floors inside the lighthouse will mean that visitors will be able to go to the very top of the lighthouse when it is open to the public again this August. The opening times for all four August weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) are:

Entrance fee:
£5 for adults — £4 for under 16's and concessions. Under 5's free.

The tea room will be open for refreshments.

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June 28 2012

The East Lighthouse — Sutton Bridge

Things have been happening at Peter Scott’s lighthouse this summer. Doug & Sue Hilton, who bought the East Lighthouse at Sutton Bridge in November 2010, are forging ahead with their plans to create a visitor centre — The Snowgoose Wildlife Trust.

Doug’s plans include a visitor centre for the general public; a classroom for the use of schools and other educational groups; a museum dedicated to Peter Scott and containing much Scott memorabilia; and a tearoom. He is also designing two new ponds to replace the existing ones.

View of the existing ponds which will be redesigned.

The layout of the pond nearest the Visitor Centre itself will be in the shape of The Wash, showing the significant towns and where all the rivers flow into it. It will also feature the wind farm arrays off the East Lincs coast.

Doug’s idea is that children and adults will get a greater appreciation and understanding of the area both from conservation and recreational aspects. This will included the history of the draining of the Fens, the formation of the Wash, its climate and importance as a wildlife haven for migrating birds, mammals and other species, as well as offering a livelihood for local fishermen.

To create a supply of fresh water suitable for the ponds Doug has had a borehole dug which will be linked to a valve and a lever that can be operated by the visitors to highlight the various places marked on the map. This feature will also help to pump the water around the system. In this way, Doug hopes that children will understand better the importance of rivers in all ecosystems. As the water will only be pumped when activated by the lever, the amount of energy used will be small.

Drilling the borehole to find fresh water for the ponds

In order to enable this work to be carried out some of the trees have been cut, which also has opened up the view of the Lighthouse from the approach road.

Approach to the East Lighthouse from East Bank and the Picnic Area

Centrica and their sub contractors, Birse, have also offered some of their surplus clay to line the ponds. All this has to be completed before work on the Visitor Centre itself can begin.

An interested walker.

As last year, the East Lighthouse will be open on all the weekends during August. For further details, see

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Aug 23 2011

Planning Permission Granted

Planning permission has been granted to Mr. Doug Hilton, for the proposed Visitor Centre and Museum at the East Bank Lighthouse.

June 11 2011

Summer 2011 at the East Lighthouse

Peter Scott's lighthouse open to the public

The East Lighthouse at Sutton Bridge, former home of Peter Scott the naturalist, will be open to the public every weekend in August, including the Bank Holiday. The new owners, Doug and Sue Hilton, are keen to invite members of the public to share this historic and interesting building.

East Bank Lighthouse Sutton Bridge

Not only will visitors be able to explore the downstairs rooms, including what was Peter Scott's studio, but they will be able to go to the second floor of the lighthouse itself. There will also be a chance to have tea in the two former garages.

Doug and Sue have set up the Snowgoose Wildlife Trust (named after the Paul Gallico story, The Snowgoose, that was based on one of Peter Scott's rescued geese) and plan to create a nature reserve within the grounds of the lighthouse itself. They will also be refurbishing the ponds that were created by the previous owner, Commander David Joel, himself an admirer of Peter Scott.

Opening times:

11am – 4pm on Saturday and Sunday:
August 6/7th; 13/14th; 20th/21st; 28th/29th

Entrance to the lighthouse: Adults £3 / children £1

During three of the weekends, The Snowgoose Trust has teamed up with Natural England, who will be holding three of their Summer Events at the lighthouse.

Sunday 7th August (11am – 3pm) Pirates of the Wash Family fun Day
Saturday 13th August ( 3pm) Tales of the fisherman
Sunday 28th August 2011 (11. – 3pm) Sir Peter Scott Discovery Day.

For details of these and more Natural England - East of England National Nature Reserve summer events please see our Community Events News page.

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East Bank Lighthouse
('Green Gateway' visitor centre)

Proposal, background and location

The Snowgoose Wildlife Trust is passionate about conservation of the natural environment and the engagement of people with it.

The natural environment is fundamental to the health and well-being of people and it is therefore critical that they should be able to feel comfortable within it and to know that it is there for them. Many physical, psychological, social and stress problems are due to a simple lack of connection with an environment that has been the evolutionary background to human development for millions of years.

As people tend to value only things that are seen to be of use or of interest to them, the environment benefits from their involvement too, because if they lack interest and understanding, destruction is often the end result.

Modern hectic lives mean that rather than actually getting out there, many people are experiencing only a kind of virtual environment through TV programmes and magazines. One of the completely unintended consequences in the presenters of these programs being so knowledgeable is that people can be put off by feeling that it is increasingly a province for qualified people only and without in-depth knowledge, full camouflage clothing and a giant pair of binoculars, they are going to be made to feel uncomfortable outsiders.

We understand these perceptions and work hard towards providing a welcoming point of connection within inspirational natural environment surroundings. This welcome is backed up by interesting, fun and varied events across a wide range of subjects and not just on environmental issues. We need people to come out first and develop a feel good factor. From that flows enjoyment, feeling comfortable and a desire to know more.

A 'Green Gateway' visitor centre facility is needed because without one, not only can we not deliver our aims and educational functions but most of all, our target audience simply cannot, or will not come into such a remote area. The functions and provisions of a 'Green Gateway' can be summed up with our 'DIRECT' anagram:

Display and retail areas
Inspirational places and events
Refreshment facilities and shelter
Educational facilities information and courses
Car Parking

The proposed 'Sir Peter Scott Centenary Centre' has these factors, with the inspirational element being of exceptional importance. There can be few other places in the country with such abundance.

East Bank Lighthouse 1934(a) The Wash National Nature Reserve, the most unique and important sea embayment area in the country for wildlife both above and below the waves.

(b) The Sir Peter Scott Story. This incredibly important lighthouse is where it all began in the 1930's, with the young Peter Scott undergoing conversion from hunter to conservationist. World famous and Knighted for his many achievements as naturalist and painter, Peter Scott also did many other things including ice skating, sailing and gliding - all at world or Olympic competitor standard. These other facets of his life together with his father having been 'Captain Scott' the great polar explorer, means there is an almost limitless range of subjects here to interest everyone. Hopefully the story of his life and the environment he dedicated it to conserving can become a doorway for others into the environment too.

(c) The East Bank Lighthouse as the most important building in the history of global conservation.

(d) The River Nene, with its history in the draining of the marshes and Fens.

(e) The wild beauty of this amazing landscape

(f) The ten mile long 'Sir Peter Scott Walk'.

The East Bank Lighthouse ponds(g) The epic 'Snow Goose' story by American writer Paul Gallico was based on the East Bank Lighthouse and Peter Scott's activities here in the 1930's.

(h) Our Sir Peter Scott memorabilia will become the basis of a permanent museum to him and represent all that he achieved including, medals, books and paintings, and set in the converted lighthouse garages, a part of the lighthouse that he actually built.

(i) The East Bank Lighthouse ponds, geese and ducks. The ducks are waiting to be fed.


There have been previous proposals to provide a visitor centre here. These appear to have received full backing from Lincolnshire County Council, the various Wash Estuary interest groups and the local community. Lack of funding brought these to a halt but not before considerable expenditure on feasibility studies. The need for and concept of a 'Green Gateway' type visitor in this location seems therefore to have been accepted in principle.

All previous proposals anticipated major alterations to the lighthouse buildings and the construction of a separate two storey visitor centre in the adjacent public car park.

Current Proposal

The proposed 'Green Gateway' design is smaller in scale than any of the past designs and is for a deliberately simple, low-profile, timber clad building, set within the grounds of the lighthouse itself. It will have views of the lighthouse (but not impinge on the privacy of the residential parts) and overlook the surrounding landscape with the ponds, their ducks and geese plus a feeding area below.

Approximate view from visitor centreThis building represents a tightly focused, flexible and highly functional design, respectful of the landscape and with a layout that will do what is says on the tin. The overall size is the minimum that will reasonably support the roles it is to achieve. Locating the building to the east of the garden preserves the essential open land and seascape views to either side of the lighthouse from the public road and introduces the board walk approach. Locating to the east of the plot has the additional benefit of keeping the centre away from the accessible end of the public roadway where it could suffer from severe vandalism.

The listed grade II* lighthouse itself and its residential outbuildings, with the exception of the garages (see Museum and lighthouse garages below) will remain exactly as they are and as a single residential unit.

We intend to open the lighthouse for guided tours throughout limited periods of the year but not to the extent that it would require a planning change of use.

Gardens (see also Trees below)

A new 1.8 metre high wooden fence will be erected in the garden, just south of the existing courtyard garden in order to preserve security and privacy for the residential part of the lighthouse, with hedge planting ultimately taking over the screening.

The lighthouse ponds will be upgraded and replanted. The large pond with the two islands will be reshaped and the ponds joined together with a simple wooden bridge over the junction.

The existing garden perimeter fencing will be eventually replaced with green chain link fencing to an overall height to match the existing, including the top overhang. The new western line of this fencing will run along the eastern side of the sycamore trees to separate the front garden of the lighthouse from the ponds, thus protecting the birds on the ponds from dogs, predators and people once the front gate is open.

External Decoration

It is proposed to stain the new external feather edge cladding black, with contrasting white UPVC windows and pale blue doors. External balcony areas will be constructed from ribbed timber decking, with upright timber balustrades stained in dark brown. The sloping board walk approach surface will be of non-slip magna board decking.


The height of the building is a compromise between keeping the floor a sensible height above the possible flooding levels (see flood risk assessment), whilst trying to keep the roofline as low in the surroundings as possible. The roof will be of pressed sheet steel tile design to match that of the lighthouse buildings in both material and colour for design continuity and to help keep the roof slopes as low as practically possible in this area of severe weather exposure.

The permitted maximum walkway slope for wheelchairs also limits the amount the working floor can be lowered. The main floor level of the building is set three-quarters of a metre below the entry gate level and at the 2006 'Low' flood risk level (see flood risk assessment).

Sea wall

We are fully aware of the sensitivity of any works proposed to, or near the sea walls. By moving the body of the building to the east, it draws it approximately nine metres away from the main protective sea wall, meaning that we have no need to carry out major works or excavations to it.

The foundations of the building are intended to be of a mass concrete raft type and will therefore involve no deep excavations. We will however need to carry out minor service cable trenching works and are planning to install an underground heat pump pipe network within the garden area at around 1.5 metres depth. There is also the sewerage disposal system installation that will be set below ground level. We are not sure if these works will be subject to approval from the Environment Agency from a flood wall risk point of view or not but in such a sensitive location we would certainly not proceed without consulting them.

If the Environment Agency feels it is a requirement that they be consulted and that they are in a position to grant permission, or otherwise for the above works, we are happy to have the obtaining of such consents as a condition of planning.


The building has a 2.5 metre balcony to the north side. This performs several functions. The first is that of an external wheelchair fire escape and the second is that of an outside seating and viewing area in good weather. As this faces north, it will provide shade from intense sunlight and protection from the prevailing winds.

Internal Layout Principles

The building is designed to provide flexibility for a variety of functions. Generally it is designed to serve customers to the classrooms, events, shop and canteen. However, as there are no toilets in this remote location and public engagement is our aim, the toilets will be made available to members of the public free of charge during opening hours providing the usage does not get out of hand. We would not want to see them classed as public toilets however and the use will at all times be subject to our right of refusal.

The entry lobby is designed to provide for a wall display area and table to the left as people enter and for a disabled/family toilet to the right. The entry lobby acts as an air lock for heat conservation purposes of the main building and when coupled with the inner lobby lockable doors, it can provide a means of keeping one toilet accessible during periods when the main building might be otherwise closed. This is not an envisaged situation at the moment but it is a future proofing of the design should it be decided to go that way.

Visitor centre floorplan
Visitor Centre Floor Plan

Passing through the inner lobby entry doors, there will be a warm air curtain during the winter to replace any warm air lost when the doors are opened because underfloor heating as provided by the heat pump is not good at responding to rapid air changes when doors open or close.

To the left is the kitchen and canteen serving area and to the right a shop area for selling maps, wildlife toys, books, lighthouse memorabilia, cards, paintings and prints etc. Both areas will have lockable pull down shutters for when not in use. Serving openings and door access in the kitchen overlooking the shop and dining area mean that during quiet periods, kitchen staff will be able to control both facilities.

All areas will have good levels of lighting and use energy efficient fittings. The ladies and gents toilets are to the right and dining area to the left. The toilets are all of water saving types and the urinals will be sensor operated for water conservation purposes. All taps will have water entraining heads and be on timed flows.

The number of toilets has been based on the canteen and general usage numbers plus the sudden rise when a meeting ends in the classroom. Toilet cubicles have been sized so a mother or father with a young child will not have to leave them outside.

There are high level windows in the toilet areas for rapid ventilation and power can be saved in good weather by using natural ventilation instead of extractor fans.

The canteen dining area is big enough to take 48 diners; this is with schools in mind and a combination of children and supervisors. In summer, some of the tables can be taken outside.

A deliberate decision was made not to have a row of opening doors instead of windows overlooking the ponds because they are not very thermally efficient and permit air movements through the seals after a few years.

Next to the dining area is the classroom. This is designed to take a maximum of 47 people. It will be equipped with an overhead computer type projector and pull down screen and the windows will all have blackout blinds.

The classroom and dining area are separated by sliding doors. These can be pulled back to make one big area and give the flexibility for an open exhibition area (with all chairs and tables being stackable), a 90 seat lecture area, or an exhibition area with some dining.

If the centre is found economically viable to run throughout the winter, it is possible that part of the Sir Peter Scott museum could be brought up from the lighthouse garages and placed here in order to save the cost of separate staffing.

All floors will be covered with slip resistant vinyl.


All access surfaces are to be suitable for wheelchairs within the property boundary. The entry boardwalk will be at 1:12 slope with resting places no more than 5 metres apart. The external decking permits wheelchair access to the balcony and a fire escape from the far end of the building. We have a unisex disabled toilet as the first room in the building and all internal doorways and gangways are wheelchair accessible dimensions.

The external pathway leading to the museum will have a suitable tarmac surface and the internal spaces of the museum will be tight but suitable. We will unfortunately not be able to provide wheelchair access to the lower duck feeding area but have a ramp at the east end that should enable access to the top of the garden bund on request.

Museum and lighthouse garages

We intend to use the existing garages of the lighthouse, that were built by Sir Peter Scott himself in 1935, to house the Sir Peter Scott museum, including memorabilia and prints.

The garages are of simple timber frame shed design and our intentions are to carry out minimum works only and none of which impact on the structure. We intend to remove the existing internal modern hardboard panelling where it exists, carry out any reasonable form of insulation to the studs and replace the internal cladding with close boarded timber, painted white to preserve a rugged and original feel.

A double glazed, entry patio type door screen will be installed immediately inside the large garage door and replace the modern steel up and over entry door with a pair of side hung timber doors to match those that were there originally and for which we have photographs. The internal floor has been replaced in the past and is waterproof. The only other alterations would be for lighting.

Stick-on frosted vinyl will be applied to the garage/museum side windows where they overlook the lighthouse courtyard area to preserve the lighthouse garden privacy.


No views of lighthouse or seascape left The lighthouse grounds have many trees of various ages. Some have been deliberately planted and others have self seeded. All appear to have grown without any management at all and as a result have considerably outgrown their original decorative or functional concept. The end result is neither pleasing and nor does it lead to healthy trees and landscaping.

Critically important views of the lighthouse and seascape beyond it have now been completely blocked.

Whilst naturally reluctant to remove mature trees, we have to consider the future functions, aims and visual layouts of the lighthouse grounds, rather than simply hanging onto things just because they are there.

The row of sycamore trees to the eastern side of the main garden was listed in 1985 for 'amenity' reasons, as part of a general listing of trees along the three mile long East Bank.

Sycamore treesIt is believed that the lighthouse sycamores may have been originally planted as a hedge many years prior to that date but because few have ever died, or been selectively thinned; they are far too close together and have now formed a ragged screen of improperly shaped trees. The density is also visually overbearing on the plot, they blank off views, shade the lawn and shed leaves into the ponds.

A meeting with the tree preservation officer was held in December last year although this was a general in-principle meeting because at that time our plans had not been drafted. Several of the trees were however noted to have health problems and would need removed.

Having now formulated our plans, we propose removing a number of these listed sycamore trees to open up the area and give the remainder room to develop into proper and pleasing shapes into the future.

On the plans, the sycamore trees we propose to retain are marked with an 'R' and we seek permission as part of this application to remove the others.

Relating to the remaining trees around the lighthouse grounds, it was confirmed that none of these are listed.

As can be seen from the photograph, it is impossible to see this iconic building at all from the roadway at present due to overgrown trees on the front garden and our plan is to remove them and replant on the sloping front bank. This will open up the views and get some light back to the front lawn, which will then be replanted.

Trees to the pond and other general garden areas, where these are dead, blocking the views, restricting the flight lines from the ponds or simply in the wrong place will also be selectively removed or trimmed.

We would stress that our aims are to present the property in as sensitive and well gardened condition as we can including gardening for wildlife and that includes trees and shrubs. Some new trees have already been planted to the lower lawn areas.

At present we have no fixed replanting scheme but as these other trees are not listed, would not expect any condition put on the planning permission that would require us to submit a planting scheme. This will be done as sensitively as we can and as we come to the various areas, rather than working to a rigid design that might not work out right in the long term.

Working with the community

This will be the second major project of the 'Snowgoose Wildlife Trust' after our flagship 65 acre Buckland Lake Reserve in Kent where our inspirational program of ideas has been formulated both above and below the water.

Photographs of Buckland Lake Reserve and Environmental Awards

Our trustees support many other wildlife and environmental organisations and although we do our own thing in our own way, part of that way is actively welcoming participation from other groups. We are very much looking forward to working with Natural England, the Wash Estuary Strategy Group, the RSPB and the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust among others.

Our target audience will have a broad range of interests and our programs have to be likewise. Participation from community groups from music, poetry, art and photography to history, rambling and traditional country pursuits all will be welcome.

We would particularly like to introduce people to the caring side of farming. It is an extremely hard industry and essential for the survival of the populace, yet farmers seem to frequently get undeserved bad press despite the fact that they, together with traditional countryside activities, are actually responsible for not only the food on our plates but also the vast bulk of conservation work that is carried out in this country.

Schools are a major focus for us and we would hope to encourage them to use our facilities that have been designed with them very much in mind.

This building will hopefully become a valued part of Sutton Bridge and prove ideal for meeting up with friends over a coffee and going for a nice stroll.

Having examined the flooding issues carefully, it is possible that this building could become an important part of the local flood emergency plan by providing a temporary refuge centre.

Local Employment

We would expect to create at least one main managers job and between two to four further part time seasonal jobs. At present it is possible that the centre may run all year and certainly that would be our hope.

There will be further local employment income possibilities for third parties providing lectures, events and guided tours etc from here and possibly bookings for seal watching trips from the new marina if someone has the right qualifications and a suitable boat.

There should be additional financial gains for local shops, B&B's and Hotels in the area with the improved serviced walks available, the lighthouse, the Snow Goose story and the Sir Peter Scott museum. Sir Peter Scott is a global name and we expect visitors from around the world to come here to see where it all started.

Economics of operation

Our 'Green Gateway' centres are designed to pay a minimum of their own financing and running costs. If they do not, then it shows an urgent need to consider where we are failing in our aims of getting people out. We have always looked on this as an excellent barometer of the effectiveness of our organisational aims.

Pre Application discussions

We have carried out extensive local consultation on these plans and with the council, including giving two public talks. As far as we are aware, our proposals have met with the approval of all residents and groups.

Eco considerations

The framework, cladding, doors and balconies will be of timber construction from renewable sources.

Heating will be by way of ground source heat pumps to provide an efficiency of 3/4 times output for every kilowatt of electricity used. The heat will be distributed via under floor heating. The electricity grid is also very green here, being close to a gas fired power station and ever increasing wind power generated sources. Having taken these issues into account and the efficiency of the ground source heat pumps we believe this is the best system we could use from the points of energy consumption and minimising Co2 gases.

Floor and wall insulation standards will exceed the current requirements, making this an easy building to heat and building regulations future proofed.

We have looked at providing solar hot water installations but our south facing roof slope is the one seriously exposed to vandal damage. We have therefore decided against such an installation.

Photovoltaic cells are not a technology we feel works well at the moment in small installations. It is also extremely expensive, would be particularly prone to damage in this location and exporting excess electricity is not a possibility because the centre is supplied directly from a high voltage transformer. We have therefore decided against such an installation.

Our main windows face north and will not benefit from high levels of solar gain. We have therefore installed windows to the eastern end to catch early morning solar gain. There are small high level windows to the south elevation and these will work for us but have been kept small because they will be exposed to vandal damage.

Car Parking and Highways

Adjacent to the proposed centre is a large public car park and overflow area. It has been considered by all previous proposals to be of more than adequate in size for the use of the Sir Peter Scott Walk and the proposed visitor centres. There appears to be capacity for approximately 120 cars plus two coaches.

Our view is that we would expect this to be capable of handling parking generated from the 'Green Gateway' proposals but the overflow car parking area will need to be reopened. It is suggested that we hold keys to the gates.

East Bank, like many roads in the area, is fairly narrow. For some distance prior to the lighthouse car parks, it becomes what would be classed as single track road at 3.4 metres wide. This was however presumably considered and found suitable when the car parks were originally installed and the Sir Peter Scott walk was opened.

In practice this road seems to work without any problems, even though one passing vehicle needs to move partly onto the verge in order to pass. They do so slowly however and the substrate being excellent ground means that little damage seems to have occurred to the edges of the carriageway over many years of use and despite the fact that the main carriageway shows signs of age and wear.

Our view is that in being a narrow road, it considerably restricts the speed at which this no-through-road is used and also dissuades people from parking along it. There has been a suggestion that passing places could be an advantage but in our experience, these are blatantly used here as parking bays and could act to restrict rather than ease the flow.

We have spoken with the highways department and await a meeting.

No parking within the grounds of the lighthouse has been provided for as it would require an elevation of the ground levels to match the reinforced sea wall and at that height parked vehicles would obscure the views of the lighthouse.

Sewerage Disposal

There are no main sewers in the area. Sewerage disposal will therefore be by way of a new packaged sewerage treatment plant with a final discharge into the ditch alongside the building. This ditch is a continually flowing surface drain containing highly saline water and drains into the river Nene via a tidal sluice approximately 100 metres away from the proposed discharge point.

Discharge volumes are never expected to exceed 4.5 M3 and on average probably not more than 1.5 M3 per day.

We have been in contact with the Environment Agency and due to the proximity of the proposed discharge to the National Nature Reserve, this will need a bespoke permit. It is understood that they have no problem with the principle of such a discharge.

As obtaining a permit is something we would do after a grant of planning permission, we propose the obtaining of a permit be made a condition of granting planning permission.

Flood Risk Assessment

Please refer to document 5 – Flood Risk Calculation.

The area within which the building will be located lies in the floodplain. Regular flooding from the sea is prevented by a series of flood banks which protect the property. Inland drainage is achieved by way of deep ditches leading to tidal sluice gates through the flood bank and into the river Nene approximately 100 metres away.

It is not considered that inland flooding itself will be a problem, especially as the garden area of the lighthouse is elevated above surrounding farmland by at least one metre. This means that a huge area would have to flood from inland sources first and this is considered highly unlikely unless there were to be a breach in the sea wall. A sea wall breach or overtopping during an exceptionally high tide therefore constitute the main flooding risk. This has been modelled on the attached document by the Environment Agency.

There are three categories of risk when determining flooding
Category 1 – low risk = less than 1:200
Category 2 – medium risk = more than 1:200 but less than 1:75
Category 3 – high risk = less than 1:75

The attached projections show projected flooding as at 2006 and again as at 2115 (in 104 years time). From these it can be seen that the 'still water' height of flood is projected to increase by approximately one metre over that period. Interestingly and probably due to the greater depth of water over the sandbanks (were they not to be built up by natural deposit), they also show a projected wave height increase to 360% of today's values too.

Projected flood heights for this specific location are:

As at 2006
1 in 10 – 5.33 AOD still water level + wave height 0.32 = 5.65 – 10%
1 in 25 – 5.57 AOD still water level + wave height 0.32 = 5.89 – 4%
1 in 50 – 5.71 AOD still water level + wave height 0.32 = 6.03 – 2%
1 in 100 – 5.86 AOD still water level + wave height 0.32 = 6.18 – 1%
1 in 200 – 6.01 AOD still water level + wave height 0.32 = 6.33 – 0.5%
1 in 1000 – 6.35 AOD still water level + wave height 0.32 = 6.67 – 0.1%

As at 2115 (104 years time)
1 in 200 – 6.01 AOD still water level + wave height 1.17 = 7.18 – 0.5%
1 in 1000 – 6.35 AOD still water level + wave height 1.17 = 7.52 – 0.1%

In considering the height at which to construct the main operation floor of the new 'Green Gateway' visitor centre, we have taken into account several factors.

(a) The desire to keep the ridge height as low as possible in the landscape.

(b) That there is no sleeping accommodation provision and mainly daylight usage meaning people can see.

(c) That we will be subscribed to a flood watch notification system.

(d) That we will have a robust flood emergency plan in place.

(e) That the insulation within the walls will be of solid type that will not absorb water and the remainder of the structure should be capable of taking short term flooding without major damage.

(f) That the main electrical intakes will be located at high level out of reach of even the worst projected flooding.

(g) That this type of building will not normally be expected to last more than 50 years before replacement and therefore a mid flood height projection could be realistic.

(h) That there is a higher ground level adjacent in the lighthouse gardens that can be used as a refuge for people caught in any flood even in a worst case scenario.
(i) That the lower levels are simply of enclosed shed type construction and will be used mostly for storage of tools and equipment that can be removed at times of risk to a higher level.

(j) That the lower level non-movable heat pump equipment is not critical to the heating of the building even if it did flood.

Taking into account the above factors, we have decided to set the main public working floor level of the building at 6.4m AOD.

As at 2006 projections this represents LOW risk.

The lower floor storage area will remain HIGH RISK, although at least one metre above surrounding farmland. For the reasons mentioned above, we consider this to be an acceptable and non-critical risk.

As at 2115 projected levels and assuming this building still exists; the main public working floor level of the building at 6.4m AOD would remain above the 1:1000 still water flood levels and it would only be the added wave height that would cause problems. As this is a very sheltered location with high flood banks and trees to the south and west and there will be some trees to the north and east, the projected wave heights may simply not materialise except in a great storm and that would have to be specifically from the North-North East a direction not in the normally prevailing direction.

We would therefore class the main public working floor level of the building even at 2115 as a MEDIUM RISK

Potential flood damage – Minimum Risk - Assuming the main floor was not flooded but the lower store area was. This will contain mainly gardening and building equipment, chairs etc. Part will contain the heat pump equipment. If this were to be flooded, cheap electric heaters will heat the building without drama until repairs could be carried out. The sewerage disposal system is designed to be flooded without releasing any of the contents.

Potential flood damage – Maximum Risk - Assuming the main floor was flooded. As mentioned, we do not consider that the flooding would be to any great extent, or for any extended time – probably no greater even in the 104 year projection than 0.5 of a metre and for a few hours. All electrical sockets will be set well above that level and incoming electrical mains and distribution boards will all be at high level. If the heat pump system was to be flooded, the building would still be capable of being rapidly dried out assuming mains electrical power was available and by generator if it was not. Mains electric is supplied by overhead poles along East Bank and set well above all projected flood levels. Internal cavity wall insulation will be of solid foam type as it does not hold water and all internal floor boards and finishes will be water resistant. The external cladding can be easily removed to dry things out if required and the underfloor heating itself will suffer no damage.

Potential flood damage - safety to people - The Environment Agency have a good flood warning alert system to which we will subscribe. We will develop a robust flood action plan giving reasonable notice for visitors to leave. East Bank road is elevated and likely to remain a permanent 'Low Risk' zone. The adjoining lighthouse grounds and roads are classed as present day 'Low Risk' and therefore provide a suitable nearby refuge if the worst flooding envisaged did occur.

The level of the main lighthouse garden is approximately 7m AOD, with the still water risk (104 year projection) for 1 in 1000 being assessed at +6.35m AOD. It is only when the maximum assessed wave height of 1.17metres is added that it becomes at risk of flooding. As mentioned, we consider it unlikely that the maximum wave height will occur here, or would be likely to sweep right across the garden. We believe therefore that the area will remain suitable as a safe local refuge even in the worst 2115 projected flooding and the lighthouse itself will remain dry and nearby.

Potential flood damage - safety to ducks and geese - The captive ducks and geese are free swimming birds and the fencing will generally remain above flood level. Were it to be collapsed by wave action, it is likely the birds would remain safe, either on the lighthouse main bank, or by swimming around until found and returned as happened to Peter Scott's collection in 1934.

Contaminated land No construction works, buildings, Industrial or Agricultural processes have taken place within that garden area that we can find and from the reports when the pods were formed, the ground is pure silt. We have no reason therefore to assume there is any ground contamination.

Environmental issues The lighthouse gardens have been enclosed and managed for a minimum of 25 years with a private collection of waterfowl. The ponds contain highly concentrated saline water that has become anaerobic due to the saline content and build up of detritus from the birds and trees.

No water voles have been observed or traces found and there are no reeds for them to feed on.

There are no records of any reptiles and the ponds are devoid of fish and frogspawn.
There are no records of Kingfishers or other red list species.

2 Pipistrelle 45 Kh bats were recorded over the ponds on two nights, although the gnat counts are less than would be expected.

Large areas of the grounds have been almost denuded of grass over the years by waterfowl grazing, leaving behind only common ground hugging weeds such as buttercup, dandelion, daisy, violet, dead nettle, celandine and ground ivy together with tussock grass to the banks.

Sycamore trees are of low wildlife interest and are known for their suppression of ground growth.

The area of land to be built on is not therefore of particular wildlife interest and the proposed pond cleaning works, together with general land conditioning will represent a big improvement. The rainwater run-off from the new building will be directed into the ponds and help dilute the saline content into the future.

Related information documents (in Adobe pdf format):

Adobe pdf icon Visitor Centre - Plan View (233kb)

Adobe pdf icon Visitor Centre - Elevations View (731kb)

Adobe pdf icon Visitor Centre - Plan View Overlay on East Bank Lighthouse Grounds (260kb)

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