A campaign to save the site of a Victorian waterworks in Surbiton from development has attracted thousands of supporters.

The Seething Wells Filter Beds are the site of a 19th century waterworks that helped provide clean water to London during a deadly cholera epidemic spread by dirty water.

Today in the midst of an otherwise different epidemic, campaigners with the Seething Wells Action Group (SWAG) in the area are fighting to "protect" the site from development and encourage the regrowth of flora and fauna there instead.

The campaign, which demands Kingston Council (RBK) take a proactive approach by re-examining the granting of planning permission for a "industrial storage" on the site.

One of its chief angles of attack is a petition that has already garnered over 3,000 signatures from residents and supporters.

"I have watched in horror and frustration over the last year, while the owners have destroyed habitat and vegetation on this precious site of nature conservation and historical importance," Campaigner and Green Party Councillor on RBK Sharron Sumner, who started the petition, said in a statement released by SWAG.

"The local council refuse to take any action against the owners, despite their behaviour which has devastated the site...

"If they are given permission for industrial storage, they will have permitted development rights for residential use - this can’t be allowed to happen on this historic site that we must preserve for future generation," she added.

RBK told the Comet that it was still reviewing applications made for the Seething Wells site.

A spokesperson for the council said:

"Current applications remain under consideration and will be determined in due course.

"Neither of the live applications seek planning permission for the development of the site - they are applications which seek to decide whether the proposals require planning permission."

Irrespective of RBK's powers and position, Liberal Democrats in Kingston and Surbiton, who currently have a ruling majority on RBK, may yet be favourable to taking action on the issue.

Their website includes its own petition that implores supporters to "give the council power" to protect the area but says the SWAG petition "does not ask for the right actions" because the site is privately owned and thus out of RBK's direct jurisdiction.

"Kingston has a wonderful Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) called Seething Wells Filter Beds, but as it’s in private ownership the local Council cannot force the owners to look after it properly.

"We’re calling on the Government to introduce ‘Biodiversity Partnership Agreements’ for all local and nationally listed nature conservation sites, including those in private ownership," a statement on the party's website reads.

The Comet spoke with SWAG Campaigner Charlie Deacon about the future of efforts to protect the area.

He said that the campaign to bring the site under public protection was only just getting going, with the petition to be submitted later this month.

Supporters hope to turn the site into a nature reserve that's accessible to all, and are urging residents to object the current planning permission via RBK's website and share their experiences of nature at the site before it's too late.

"The site has been desecrated from a haven for nature into a barren wasteland," Charlie told the Comet.

"If you're down at the site and can see birds feeding or nesting it's worth sending that into us because that will bolster our campaign," he said.