Did this April Fools story fool you? The Hogsmill is safe, for now...
Vast swathes of Kingston's greenest areas could be opened up for development after a controversial behind-closed-doors European legal ruling.
The 74 hectare Hogsmill valley, the borough's green 'lung' running from Viliers Road alongside the Hogsmill river all the way through to Malden Manor, could be one of the first casualties.
The Surrey Comet has seen the judgment but the hearings, so far held at the High Court and the European Court of Justice, had been secret for commercial reasons until today.
The decision, part of a 235 page document finally made public at midnight, will trigger an avalanche of competing interests in Kingston vying to put forward their own ideas for the land.
Danish chief justice Næppe Troværdigs' conclusion, after three months of consideration, said that decisions enshrined in the Green Belt Act of 1938, the London Plan 1944, and Metropolitan Open Land act of 1972 could no longer be relied upon.
His ruling said: "I agree [that] the UK Government did not give considerable weight to the argument that the legislation protecting green spaces should be tested."
Kingston Council said last night that although it did not agree with the findings it had no legal power to force an appeal, while sources in the Government and Kingston University experts are said to be studying the precedents.
Edward Davey, Kingston and Surbiton MP and energy minister, has been made aware of the ruling by EU colleague Olaf Priol, and could test voter's green sympathies ahead of the General Election by exploring if the land has fracking potential.
Driling licenses have already been granted for sites in Hampshire and Dorset and a similar move could trigger fears of mini-earth tremors along the river Hogsmill, potentially causing another repeat of 1995s Tolworth Tower scare, when thousands of civil servants had to be evacuated after Kingston police forced the controlled explosion of an improperly licensed bathtub found in a shed in Hook Rise South.
Other interested parties could also take advantage of the new freedom to set aside previous protections on the space.
Thames Water owns much of the land but may be willing to sell "for the right price" believed to be in the region of £40m - equivalent to the yearly salary of Kingston-born footballer Luke Shaw, who may be approached.
A 2010 Kingston Council report which described the valley as "under-utilised" and largely inaccessible to the public, declared ambitions to create more student accommodation, a new Kingsmeadow football stadium and a cycle sky-way, with cyclists and pushchair users lifted 20 foot high in the air in perspex encased tubes with four loop-the-loop trial sections.
At least one developer has put forward a planning application to resurrect its plans for a safari park/waste incinerator/nightclub, creating a "landmark" eco-park.
Their plans were originally leaked to Facebook group Original Kingston No Fakes before being hastily deleted by administrators and replaced by a picture of a 1950s pub - sparking the launch of three rival sites in protest.
Kingston Chamber of Commerce said on its Instagram site that Bentalls and John Lewis could be willing to combine forces and build a Clarence Street mk 2 to rival the threats of West End, Bluewater and New Malden High Street.
The Seething Community have drawn up plans for a giant pub with outdoor giant games of Cluedo, Mouse Trap (including a life-size Hungry Hippo attraction with Chessington Zoo) a papier mache sculpture of Lefi Ganderson or a small post office, in order to head off the prospect of anything worse.
Kingston Allotment Society told the Surrey Comet via Bebo that it was too soon to speculate but they would like to see an allotment for every member of the borough.
The Rose Theatre is considering a new play about the issues raised, set in 19th century Norway starring an anamatronic Brian Blessed.
Several residents in Lower Marsh Lane have threatened to move closer to the six-lane A3 if the sewage treatment works in the valley are taken away from them.
The Greenbelt legal battle, estimated to have cost up to 6 Euros, was launched by the shadowy Kingston Rake business organisation, after dusty documents dating back to 1,000 AD were discovered in All Saints Church as part of its new development, suggested King Athelstan may have intended for the 'Hogsmille forest' to have been a small fortified village creating weapons to invade the Isle of Wight.
His words translated in the court by Kingston University Prof Alid Loyas said: "May the land [be] bountiful and let all Barones, Knigguts, and Serfs prosper on it."
Contested parts of the documents then said: "As long as none of these homes do float, I rest content" but their accuracy was fiercely argued over by lawyers.
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